It’s a dead end road. And I’ve traveled down it time after time again.
Seeking after the approval of people.
Wanting everyone to like us.
This dead end road is far from the narrow path He invites us to walk on.
In fact, Paul had to confront this same issue within himself as stated in Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” NIV
Seeking after the approval of man should never supersede the approval of Jesus. Yet, it happens day after day. We as humans desire to be accepted, to be included, and to be loved. And so we gradually begin conforming to the people around us :at work, at church, at school, and even at home.
This has been a tough lesson for me. A real challenge.
Especially when responding in obedience to Christ.
Many of us have experienced the “warm and fuzzy” feeling that accompanies a good deed done in the name of our Lord Jesus. Feeding the hungry. Sharing a word of encouragement. Providing money for someone’s utility bill. Even writing a blog post that pierces a stranger’s heart.
Let me be real here:
We like to feel good. We like partnering with Jesus and winning His approval. And of those around us, too. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone’s happy, and that appeals to our nature. But, what’s the motive here?
What if the Lord Jesus asks us to do good and it doesn’t win the approval of others?
In fact, they reject it. And they reject you.
I am learning, my friends, this is the raw reality of following after Jesus Christ. The cost of being a disciple.
And these are the exact words Jesus spoke into my soul this morning.
“My Word never says that people will not reject you. It does however, state that I will not reject you. If you do things in My name, especially in My name, you will be rejected. Even My own children, at times, will reject you.”
So, the question I have to ask myself is: “Am I willing to be rejected for the sake of Christ?”
He reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah. God chose Him (just like He chooses many of us) to speak a message of hope and restoration to the people of Israel. Jeremiah was willing and available and I’d imagine He was hoping for a positive outcome. But, it never came.
Let’s see how the story unfolds.
It begins in Jeremiah 4:1-2 stating: “If you return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. ‘If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just, and righteous way you swear “As surely as the Lord lives,” then the nations will be blessed by Him and in Him they will glory.”
What’s happening here?
The Lord is pursuing His beloved, Israel. Just as He pursues us.They’ve gotten themselves into a real dilemma by constantly rejecting the Lord. So, in His abounding grace, the Lord decides to give them another chance in speaking a message of hope through His servant, Jeremiah.
The scripture states in Jeremiah 4:9: “In that day,” declares the Lord, ‘the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled’.”
And the prophets will be appalled.
Look at this statement. Jeremiah was completely dumbfounded by the people’s response.
He was obedient to the Lord and the people rejected him.
Then the Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 5:18-19: “Yet even in those days, declares the Lord, ‘I will not destroy you completely. And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own’.”
There’s an important lesson to be learned here. God asked Jeremiah to be His voice to the people. Jeremiah agreed in obedience. Jeremiah spoke to the people. And the people rejected God’s message. It’s because they rejected God, they also rejected Jeremiah.
Are we truly seeking after God’s approval in our lives?
Or are we focused on people?
What if God asks you to speak a message of truth to an individual and they criticize the very words you’ve spoken? Will you obey Him?
What if God asks you to leave your job and to follow Him into a foreign nation, and those you love the most oppose your plans? Will you follow Him?
What if God asks you to partner with Him to comfort someone in need by paying for their expenses, and then they decline the gift? Will you still partner with Him?
Or what if God prompts you to ask permission to pray for someone who’s deeply wounded and then they curse you? Will you submit to His leading?
These are real situations happening to real people. Are we willing to put the opinions of others on the back burner and follow through in our convictions?
What Jesus thinks matters. THE MOST.
And at the end of the day when we sit before the Lord and look at our lives, no one else will be around. It’ll just be us and Jesus.
And may you remember, beloved, people-pleasing is just a dead end road.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
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