My fifth-grade self was devastated. I wanted to be accepted by the cool kids. I craved the respect and admiration they demanded from their peers. Although I tried so hard to gain their suave acceptance, I didn’t quite make it. They told me to leave them alone. I didn’t measure up.
All my life I have battled a desire to accepted by others. Yes, I know it’s normal, but it’s also destructive. The approval of others is fickle, driven by the whims and moods of society. What the crowd praises one day, it condemns the next.
We cannot live this way! We cannot let the approval of others be our foundation. The shifting sands of popular opinion will cause total collapse when the storms come.
Even worse, living for people-approval limits the work of God in our lives!!
“The fear of man lays a snare,But whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”Proverbs 29:25 ESV
This fear of disapproval keeps us from saying what God puts on our hearts.
It hinders us from worshiping God with abandon.
It prevents us from obeying God.
It locks us into harmful relationships.
No wonder the believers in the book of Acts prayed for boldness so often! Boldness is the opposite of fear. Our natural reaction is to protect our personal interests, our reputations, and the esteem of others. These early believers knew what they needed. Only the Holy Spirit could help them overcome their natural selfishness to proclaim Jesus in the face of real persecution.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”Psalm 27:1 ESV
Fear of man cannot co-exist with obedience to God.
We are no different. We are faced with a choice. We can bow to the fear of man. OR we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us boldness to obey.
The more I dig my foundations into Jesus Christ, the less I care about what others think. When I know that I will answer to God alone, it simplifies decision-making. I really only have to consider God’s opinion. The other opinions just don’t matter.
As I walk in Holy-Spirit-boldness, I become free from the chains of expectations. I no longer have to strive to please the ever-changing popular crowd. I don’t have to worry about fulfilling man-made traditions.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”John 8:31-32 ESV