I used to be a very self-conscious person. Sometimes I still am, just not over the same things. I still worry about what people will think about me when I do certain things. Like when I preach, I go back-and-forth over saying certain things. I ask Sarah if it’s okay. I ask Dave and Joyce what they think. It’s always something that’s true, but I’m worried that the way I say it may be too gruff or it’s just not the right timing to be saying it. And then when I do go forward and say something I had worried about, I always wait for the shoe of criticism to drop.
I think it’s very easy to be concerned with what others think. Our culture has made it very clear that what others think of you matter, so you had better buy this, eat here, wear that, and workout over here. Anything less would be unacceptable. And of course, you had better think like other people do, or you could be shouted down via angry internet comments. That last one’s a tough one. It silences a lot of Christians on important issues. We want to be liked, not hated, so we don’t venture to say what we believe based on the Bible, because it won’t be applauded and welcomed.
But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to be living, walking, and talking for the approval of God. Bebo Norman said it best when he said, “it is the applause of the nail scarred hands that matter most.” That’s it. God’s view of what we say and what we do ought to be louder in our hearts than any other opinion. This is how Jesus lived. In Mark 12:14, Jesus’ disciples admired this way about Him. They said, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men but truly teach the way of God.” Jesus wasn’t worried about opinions or popularity. He just taught the truth of God. That’s how we’re supposed to live. We’re not supposed to be consumed with what people think, and we definitely shouldn’t be pursuing being liked by everyone. Jesus warned against that in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
Worry about what God thinks. Say what God says. Sometimes people will not like it, but God’s approval matters more than man’s.