The Fear of Ridicule

Owen B. Moseley

In Jeremiah 38:19 we read: “And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.  Of what are we afraid? Are we sometimes stymied, weakened, handcuffed, handicapped, paralyzed, or disabled by our fears? How do we view the following if they are directed toward us: mocking, ridicule, taunting, jeering, sneers, sarcasm? To what extent are our actions governed by our fears of such things? What keeps us from obeying the teachings and commands of God?

Zedekiah, the king, was afraid that he would be mocked/ridiculed. This fear resulted in his not obeying the command of God. How often do we let the fear of being ridiculed cause us to be weak, to act foolishly, to do that which is wrong, to not do that which is right??

In today’s society one of the chief weapons of persecution is ridicule. What happens to those who speak the truth about homosexual behavior, abortion, evolution, immodest apparel? No one is immune to the tendency to fear ridicule. Young people are especially susceptible and sensitive to ridicule. Many times we make choices that result in avoiding actions that may lead to ridicule.

In Jeremiah 38:22 we read: “And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah’s house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.”    Zedekiah is told by Jeremiah that if he, in the face of ridicule, fails to obey the command of God, he will suffer contempt from his own friends. When the fear of ridicule leads an otherwise faithful Christian to a modification of behavior (social drinking, smoking, drug use) the result is a loss of respect by those who were the sources of the ridicule. In addition, close friend will lose respect for the Christian. Also, those providing the ridicule will tend to disrespect the Christian because of his/her weakness and hypocritical behavior. Observation shows that when Christians meekly and steadfastly hold to their principles in the face of ridicule they tend to win the respect of observers (even those who are the source of the ridicule). The consistency between belief and behavior on the part of the Christian, in the face of ridicule, makes observers who practice such folly and despicable behavior ashamed.

In Jeremiah 38:23 we read: “So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.    God stated that the fear of ridicule by Zedekiah would have disastrous results. Scripture reveals that disaster resulted. Anytime we fail to obey God’s commands (for whatever reason), there will be negative consequences. These negative consequences will always be of a greater magnitude than the temporary, relatively insignificant effects of suffering ridicule. When we face ridicule, or even the possibility of ridicule, because of obeying God, we need to carefully consider the relative significance of the choices facing us. Hopefully, we will have the courage to make the correct choice.

In Jeremiah 38:20 we read: “But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” As we consider choices that face us regarding obedience to the teachings and commands of God, we must not be overcome by the fear of the possible ridicule. We need to remember what Jeremiah said to Zedekiah: “. . . obey the voice of the Lord. . .  We must overcome all of our fears. We must resist the efforts of Satan to make us afraid. We must see the selfishness of any of our thoughts and actions that result from the fear of ridicule. We need to ask ourselves: What is more important—What God thinks of me OR what man thinks of me? God has revealed His will to us. God speaks to us through us through His word. God loves us beyond measure. God is watching over us. God wants us to do right.

Jeremiah says that when we obey the Lord, “. . . it shall be well with us.” As mere mortals, we don’t necessarily know what is well for us. God knows. If our faith in God is what it ought to be, we can know that even when we encounter in life that which may not seem to us to be good, that the result shall be well. A significant part of it being well with us is that our souls shall live eternally with God. Is this not worth overcoming the fear of ridicule and obeying all the commands of God?

What do we really gain by disobeying God in order to avoid ridicule?