For whom are you dancing today? Well, perhaps you are not actually dancing, but who are you trying to please? We all have some level of need for appreciation, wanting to be liked. If we make that kind of approval our first priority, misery is guaranteed. A hundred voices will call us to a hundred pathways. Public pressure will try to squeeze us into conformity to a dozen different sets of expectations.
Paul writes this, not from vanity, but with a laser-like focus. “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else,” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6, NIV)
In ancient Israel, King David wanted to bring the symbol of God’s Presence home to the city of Jerusalem. The story of his attempts has some fails and missed cues, so when the day finally came for the Ark of the Covenant to come to Jerusalem, he was overcome with joy in the Lord. As the procession entered the city, he started to dance, then spin, and then… he shed his royal robes, dancing in front of his people in just his tunic. In a sense, he was down to his royal underwear: leaping, dancing, and shouting the praises of God.
Some people were delighted by his enthusiasm, but not all! “Michal daughter of Saul (David’s wife) watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:16, NIV) When he got back to the palace, he expected to share his joy. Instead, she met him with her contempt. “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” Just to be clear – David was not naked. Her contempt came out of her notion that he had not kept his royal dignity intact.
It remains a truth that when you devote yourself fully to the Lord there will always be critics. Even some Christians will come to despise you. Your devotion may challenge their apathy, the fire in your heart exposing the coldness of theirs. In those situations it is much easier to turn on the true worshiper, to criticize his devotion and/or his motive, than to repent. If you listen to them they will kill your joy, hinder your worship, and diminish your love of God.
We seek the applause of the “audience of One,” to borrow the words of Kierkegaard. God’s approval must be enough for us. It was for David. When his wife mocked his worship, he told her: “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:20-22, NIV)
Critics will turn you into a puppet dancing at the end of the strings they pull. Gently, humbly, refuse their demands. Beware of arrogance or pride that devalues the fellowship of Believers. We are part of His Body and submitted to one another, and yet the deepest intimacy and our greatest sacrifice generally will be reserved for God alone. Jesus warned that we can turn prayer and worship into a performance designed to impress others. Our only reward, He said, is their admiration.
Heaven falls silent when we start to dance for the crowd! But, there will be moments when the Spirit of God sweeps over us and we just forget ourselves, enthralled by His love. In those moments, we forget the critics. As Paul asks, 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.” (Galatians 1:10, NIV)
Struggling with critics? Listening to many voices, feeling pressure to conform? Here is the word from the Word. “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)
For God, and God alone.
(what or who is your foundation?)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
Brett Younker | Karl Martin | Kirby Elizabeth Kaple | Matt Redman | Pat Barrett © 2016 Martin, Karl Andrew (Admin. by Arkyard Music Services Limited) Kaple Music (Admin. by Bethel Music Publishing) Bethel Music Publishing
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