“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Prov. 29:25
“Fear” in the biblical sense is a much broader word. It includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshipping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people…However you put it, the fear of man can be summarized this way: We replace God with people. Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others. —Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, p.14)
If “fear of man” that Proverbs refers to is replacing God with man, then it seems this is a worship problem. It also leads to seeking approval from other people rather than from God.
“They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.” Matthew 23:5-7
“Fear of man” also means that we fear being rejected by others, to the point of caring more about our approval rating with people than God.
“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:42-43
It’s a trap. Proverbs says the “fear of man” lays a snare for us. Beware!