Once again, Jesus hits me right in the heart. I’m reminded of the statement I’ve heard: “It’s none of my business what others think of me.”
Here’s how John said it: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42-43).
We look back on these folks with disdain. Yet, do we not sometimes do the same? Perhaps we believe in Jesus but we don’t tell a lost friend because we fear they will reject us. Or perhaps we’ve studied something in the Word that our brethren don’t generally believe and we won’t share it because we are afraid they’ll kick us out of the church or write us up in a paper. The problem with this, of course, is if we are wrong, we don’t get the correction we need until it is usually too late. On the other hand, if we are right, we aren’t actually helping anybody.
But back to the mantra I shared at the beginning. I think many Christians will balk at it. But think, why does it really matter what folks think of you? This statement is not intended to say don’t worry how you live. It doesn’t say it is none of your business what God thinks of you. It’s none of my business what others think of me.
Here’s the point. If I’m doing wrong, I can put on the mask and get you to think that I’m wonderful. I may receive all kinds of glory from you. That won’t change that I’m not going to receive glory from God. However, if I’m doing what is right, you may despise me. I may never receive glory from you. You may be judging me in your heart as an awful person. However, that won’t change that I’m right with God and will receive glory from Him. So, in the end, it really doesn’t matter what you think of me. What matters is what God thinks of me. Why then should I let worry about your like or dislike of me cause me to get into an unhealthy obsession about our relationship or about impressing you? Instead, I should simply strive to please God in our relationship and let your thoughts of me be between you and God.
Does this mean I don’t have to be nice to you or considerate? Of course not. But why am I nice and considerate? Is it because I want to impress you so you’ll like me? No. It is because God has said I should be compassionate, tender-hearted, kind, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32). This is the right thing to do, not to get you to like me but to please God. If I focus on pleasing God, I’ll live toward you as I ought. If, however, I focus on pleasing you, I will probably not live toward God as I ought.
For some of us, this is a real struggle. It’s not that we don’t care about God, it’s just that somewhere along the way we picked up an unhealthy habit of needing approval. Thus, we filter all our decisions through what will this decision make so and so think of me. I’m not exactly sure how to overcome this unhealthy obsession with what others think of us. But I think it begins with remembering no matter what anyone else thinks of us, God loves us. As we read earlier in John’s gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” When we are seeking man’s approval, we are looking for true love in all the wrong places. Rest in God’s love. Only then can you really love others and accept what love they are willing to offer or survive despite the love they withhold.
Remember today, it’s none of your business what everyone else thinks of you.
***Question: How do you focus on pleasing God instead of man?
Keep the faith and keep reading,