On another public forum online I saw someone shared his problem:
A few friends to laugh and joke with is fine, but when someone starts to take a genuine interest in me, I freak out.
Here’s some thought and hopefully a biblical strategy for biblical counseling.
The Two Step
I think it might be worthwhile to fill in the blank, “When someone starts to take a genuine interest in me, I freak out because ___” Sometimes there are multiple things you might fill in. I encourage you to even write it out what your answers are. Then evaluate them biblically. That is, looking at your answers from the perspective of God’s Word. I think this can be very helpful.
Let us say we have a hypothetical individual name Tom. He’s going to work this two step exercise.
1. Fear of what others would think about me
Filling in the Blank: In filling in the blank the first thing Tom writes is “When someone starts to take a genuine interest in me, I freak out because I get scared what they would think about me.” That takes a lot of honesty to admit have it together.
Biblical Assessment: Evaluating this biblically Tom realizes there is a fear of man that is operating in his heart. Proverbs 29:25 states “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Tom realizes that he knows very well firsthand the first half of the verse “The fear of man brings a snare…” But notice the hope provided in the second half of the verse: “But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” He realizes what He needs to do is to trust in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord is not just only something required in the area of salvation, but it also applies to how he live his life and with others. Practically speaking Tom is going to pray about it and will trust in God to work in himself to love others.
2. Loving the praise from men
Filling in the Blank:As Tom fills in the blank he discover that more specifically he wants people to be pleased with him. He wants to receive praises from others. So he’s afraid he might get the opposite of praise from others if he opens up. He writes down “When someone starts to take a genuine interest in me, I freak out because I fear they would learn about who I really am and they would not think highly of me.” Tom wants people to think he has things together; but the truth is that he doesn’t.
Biblical Assessment: In the Gospel of John we read concerning the Jewish religious leaders, “For they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:43). Notice loving the praise of men is spoken negatively if one wants that more than praise with God. It dawn on Tom that his walk with God matters here, for if he wants to please God first then he’s going to be less worried about getting praises from men. Tom realizes he needs to be more conscious about God throughout the day, not just with lip service but he needs to see God as the One who he needs to please.
3. Getting angry with others
Filling in the Blank: Tom also realize the following is also true: “When someone starts to take a genuine interest in me, I freak out because I do not want to hurt them.” Tom knows he has a short fuse. Looking back he sees how over the years he has had a history of hurting the people whom he love whether with words or even physically. So avoiding others and avoiding deeper meaningful relationships is a way of him protecting himself from others.
Biblical Assessment: Tom is deeply convicted realizing his sin of unrighteous anger. He came to the realization that he has several different motives with his angry motivation. Sometimes his anger is triggered when he insists his own way. Other times it is because he is easily annoyed. However there is nothing like the anger he has when he has been wronged by others. 1 Corinthians 13:5 hit him pretty hard: Love “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” He realizes that when he gets angry he is acting unbecomingly. He takes into account wrongs by others. He is easily provoked and often insists on his preferences. 1 Corinthians 13:5 in one verse goes against these very deeds Tom commits. 1 Corinthians 13:5 reveals the symptom; Tom now sees his biggest problem is that he does not love others. How can Tom love others? Pray. Pray to God that the Spirit would give him a spirit of love. Tom also need to study the Gospel deeply to see how God has loved him. How deep is a deep study of the Gospel? Tom needs to study the Gospel until it moves him; until it grips his heart and he too is moved to love others not because they are worthy but because Christ is worthy of worshipful obedience. Tom also has to read up other Christian resources on anger. He’s also memorized verses dealing with anger and has to frequently meditate on Bible Verses from Proverbs.
It’s hard, and Tom realizes he is going to probably mess up somewhere down the road but as his pastor preaches, he’s going to ask Him for help along the journey and practice moment by moment loving obedience to God because he’s been moved by the Gospel which have saved his soul. He sees the beauty of how the Gospel is very relevant to his life and his problems by addressing the issue of the heart.