Trapped!

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. – Proverbs 29:25

If you have ever hunted by way of using traps, you know the importance of setting a proper snare. Where I live in Alaska, many enjoy trapping lynx. When that lynx gets its paw caught in the trap, it flips out. There is a lot of commotion but no results. There is a lot of movement, but it is not going anywhere. When the trapper finds his victim, he has total control over his prey. If he wants to let it go, he has the power to do so. If he wants to kill it, he has that power as well. If he wants to simply drag it around by the chain, the lynx is helpless to do anything about it. 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

What a clear illustration! When a Christian is controlled by the fear of man, he is trapped. He can go nowhere. He is led by the will of another. Yet, the one who is wholly trusting in the Lord is safe. I find that an interesting contrast. In Proverbs 28:1b, the Bible tells us that “… the righteous are as bold as a lion.” There is a boldness that comes from being in the right — or doing right. But that is not the word Proverbs 29:25 uses. Many of the proverbs in the Bible are contrasting principles. In this verse, fear is contrasted with trust, and snare (trap) is contrasted with safety. At an initial glance at this verse, I would think that trusting God would lead to overcoming fear, like being bold. Instead, trusting God in and of itself is what overcomes the fear, which in turn, leads to safety – or not being taken by the trap. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

It’s about identity

Identity is everything! Who are you? We talk a lot these days about identity. In fact, it seems like the more identity is talked about, the more confused society is becoming regarding identity. We are in a collective identity crisis! As believers in Christ, our identity does not come from society. It doesn’t even come from birth. Our identity comes from Christ! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The New Testament epistles are replete with statements of our position in Christ. Dead to self, not in the flesh, alive unto God, complete in Him, accepted in the beloved, justified, joint heirs with Christ, quickened, and on and on the identity words go. 

When we lose sight of our identity, we fall prey to the tricks of the devil. Our confidence lies in who we are in Christ and our trust in Him. When He is our identity and our sufficiency, what can man do? Timothy found himself falling into this trap. As a discouraged young preacher, Paul had to come alongside him and remind him that “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6). Timothy was getting to the place where he was ashamed of Paul for being in prison and even tempted with being ashamed of the testimony of the Lord. And why not? After all, who would want to join Paul in prison? These fears, at least for a time, paralyzed Timothy. He was crying (2 Timothy 1:4), he was timid and fearful (2 Timothy 1:6), he was neglecting his calling (2 Timothy 1:5), and this seemed to be the status quo of preachers of that day as Paul related how many had turned away in Asia (2 Timothy 1:15). When fear overtakes us in the Christian life, it paralyzes us. We are trapped and cannot go forward. We need a renewed vision of who we really are in Christ, not who the accuser tells us we are. We must live in that identity and place our trust in the sovereign, living God where He becomes our safety. 

Paul had this understanding, which likely lead to his boldness. In 2 Timothy 1:12, he stated, “For the which cause [preaching Christ] I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Don’t stand in the flesh

Be bold, Christian. Make sure you do not trust in your own strength! 

In the mid-1800’s a young preacher by the name of Dudley Tyng was force to resign his church for preaching against slavery. This did not deter him, though. Instead he went out to start another church. He and several other preachers conducted revival meetings at the local YMCA that quickly drew thousands. In March of 1858, Tyng preached to 5,000 young men and 1,000 of them made a profession of faith in Christ. During his sermon, we was credited as saying “I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.”

Just a few short days after, he visited his barn where a mule was being used to pull a machine that was shelling corn. He patted the mule and his sleeve got caught in the machine mutilating his arm. He would later die from the injury. 

Before he passed, one of his preacher friends visited him, asking if he had anything to share with the other preachers at the revival. He answered, “Tell them, ‘Let us all stand up for Jesus.’” One of the preachers, Dr. George Duffield, was so touched by his words he wrote the song “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus” and closed his sermon by reading his new poem. Thinking of his friend, he included in the third stanza, “Stand in His strength alone; the arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.” (Chapman, 2022).

What a message for us all. Stand up for Jesus! Stand up for God’s truth, but above all, stand in His strength!

Stand up, stand up for Jesus
ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,
it must not suffer loss.
From vict’ry unto vict’ry
his army he shall lead
till ev’ry foe is vanquished
and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict
in this his glorious day.
Ye that are men now serve him
against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger
and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor,
each piece put on with prayer;
where duty calls or danger,
be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the strife will not be long;
this day the noise of battle,
the next, the victor’s song.
To him that overcometh
a crown of life shall be;
he with the King of glory
shall reign eternally.

– Dr. George Duffield, 1858

Citations

Chapman, D. (2022, January 22). The unusual story behind “Stand up, stand up for jesus”. hymncharts.com. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://www.hymncharts.com/2015/07/27/the-unusual-story-behind-stand-up-stand-up-for-jesus/ 

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