Study B: Do other people matter more than God?
Tim Chester writes that often we are so busy because of the expectations of our workplace or friends. Or perhaps because we put in long hours of dedication keeping up with TV and film, the latest fashion or popular music in order to be a ‘culture vulture.’ Churches can also place expectations and burdens on us. Robert Banks says,
‘If you lack assurance of your acceptability and worth, the temptation is to try and earn approval both from others and yourself by your own efforts. This is one reason why people take on so many extra tasks and responsibilities that God never required of them.’
Study - The Lie: other people matter more than God
1. DISCUSS Do you agree with Chester’s statement:
‘God does not expect us to do more than we can do. If we are giving more than we can manage effectively other people’s approval matters more to us than God.’
2. In Proverbs 29:25 we read:
‘Fear of Man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.’
In what ways do you think we might be in ‘Fear of Man’ (or woman!)
3. Which of these symptoms of this fear do you relate to?
* Peer Pressure;
* Small lies;
* Avoiding people;
* Comparing yourself with others;
* Fear of evangelism.
4. One test of the ‘Fear of Man’ is to ask: Am I over-committed? Do I find it hard to say no?
5. ‘Fear of Man’ is a kind of idolatry (we exalt other people because we think they have something to give us). The underlying idol is Self: ‘When we need approval and affirmation from other people we are, in effect, wanting them to worship us.’ To what extent do you agree with Chester’s claim?
The Truth: God alone is my Master.
6. READ Isaiah 33:5-11
7. Chester suggests that respect, worship, trust, submittal are key in our relationship with God. Yet v11 reminds us of his awesome power.
How easy is it to get a balance between respect, intimacy, chumminess and awe?
8. What do we learn from Psalm 34: 7-9 and Psalm 56: 3-4 about ‘Fear of God’.
TOO BUSY TO PRAY?
How does ‘Fear of Man’ directly or indirectly contribute to your being too busy to pray?
In pairs or as a group discuss at least one change you are going to make and spend time in prayer laying this promise at the feet of Jesus and praying for each other. Be ready to report back next week!
Further Reading PSALM 18
As ‘Christ’ means ‘king’, David was God’s Christ (Anointed One). Jesus was David’s descendant, so the person who speaks to us in Psalm 18 is Christ! We can make Psalm 18 our own; a psalm for when you feel overwhelmed or entangled.
 Banks, Robert, The Tyranny of Time (IVP, 1983), p.68.
 Chester, T., The Busy Christians Guide (103)