It is the rare person who cares nothing for the opinion of others! We learn, early in life, to fit in. We find people with whom we can identify, that give us a sense of place and belonging. That is not a bad thing, entirely, unless we allow the ‘group’ to think for us, surrendering our own identity. Part of maturity is coming to know who we are, what is truly important, and gaining the ability to choose the influencers in our life wisely.
Some persons never mature emotionally beyond the teen years. Remember being a teen, when the approval of your friends was paramount in life? Whatever your ‘group’ valued – their style, opinions, music …. it all really mattered because you wanted acceptance. That’s natural, but how sad it is to see a person who has reached mid-life who is still allowing how she lives to be defined by her peers. That person is a puppet on string, dancing on life’s stage – tugged first this way, then that.
Persons who live for approval of others will constantly be adjusting their image, trying to conceal those parts of their life that they think are unacceptable.
Christians find a life in the Spirit, centered in God’s amazing love, a love unrelated to our natural beauty, brains, or brawn. His love flows out of His grace! In God’s love, shown to us in Jesus Christ, we gain security and a sense of identity that allows us to live openly and honestly. A Christian can live authentically in this world when she has found who she is in Christ.
Paul, when criticized for his message that ran counter to tradition, declared: “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) His statement was NOT born of arrogance, but of the most profound submission of his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Are you able to live authentically because you have grasped the extent of God’s acceptance? Or, are you investing a lot of time and energy to conceal failures, incapable of acknowledging your fears or feelings of confusion?
When you share parts of your life story, do you carefully edit out those episodes that you think are too ‘awful’ to be told? When I find myself in the company of someone who feels compelled to put on a lot of spiritual ‘make up’ trying to look more ‘Christian,’ I just want to hug them close and whisper – “God loves you, warts and all. It’s OK to be real!”
This is not to encourage any of us to revel in sin or to excuse our bad behaviors. Some, in immaturity, make God’s grace into a license for sinning. “If He loves me as I am, then I can go on living to suit myself.” That’s always been the response of some to the message of God’s love. When we live openly, honestly before the Lord, we will be transformed to become more like Jesus.
The Word teaches us to desire a life that pleases the Lord. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (Romans 12:2, NLT)
The motive for that change is of highest importance.
Are we trying to change ourselves to win the approval of our church or family, or arewe loving God and being changed by love? We cannot be a Christian just by ‘acting like one,’ our image defined by our church or pastor. We must become a child of God, through faith, given a new name, a new identity. He writes His love in bold letters on our hearts which changes us, inside out.
Are you insecure? Defeat that fear praying to KNOW the depth of the love of God. The One who knows you best loves you most!
Here’s a word from the Word. Keep it in your mind and meditate on it today – “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.” (Romans 14:17-18, NLT) That’s a win-win!
(MercyMe sings of God’s great love!)
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
O love of God how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call
God’s love so sure shall still endure
All measureless and strong
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race
The saints and angels song
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
Frederick Martin Lehman | Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
© Words: Public Domain