AN AMAZING FACT: More than 70 million Christians have died as martyrs for their faith.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” —Proverbs 28:27
You might be surprised to learn that more than half of these Christian martyrs died in the 20th century. We tend to think of martyrs as people who lived in ages past—people like Stephen of the early church period or Huss, Tyndale, Knox, and so many others of the Reformation era. But, in reality, Christians today are dying for their faith in huge numbers.
Some estimate an average of more than 280 Christians die for their faith every day, or about one every five minutes. These statistics only count Christians who were killed because they were Christians, and not those who happened to be victims of war.
It takes extreme courage for people to stand firm in their faith in the face of violent persecution, especially if it means surrendering their lives. This kind of courage can only come from God.
Fear of man is a trap that many people fall into; even such champions of faith as Abraham and Elijah fell prey to this type of fear at some point in their lives. When we fear other people, it makes us vulnerable. We live in dread of what others might think about us or do to us. The solution is a deep fear, or respect, for God. We need to live our lives with deep reverence for our Father in heaven, serving only Him, and paying more attention to what God says than to what anyone else says.
“Whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” doesn’t mean that there won’t be trials, persecution, or even death. It means that, in the end, God will redeem the ones who trust in Him. “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (Psalm 34:22), “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
The psalmist writes, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). Along the same lines, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). In the end, only God deserves our fear and worship.
Dear Lord, keep me from being ensnared by a fear of man. May I fear only you and be always faithful.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall. Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer. Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length. An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not. The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the LORD. An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. Proverbs 29:14-27