“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
When I make a conscious effort in doing the right thing, it is never, ever because I have been peer-pressured into doing so. I promise you, you won’t see me scuffing my heals along, reluctantly stating, “Well, when you put it that way, I guess” (grumpy cat face). Likewise, i’m not going to try to “hide my sins” in order to appear more “righteous”. As i’ve stated before, I once felt like a prisoner to the opinions of others. I was always worried about whether or not someone would “approve” of me. Many of my opinions were kept hush out of fear of what others might think. I’m happy to say that those chains have been broken and i’m not about to bind myself up again.
When I donate money at the register or offer a stranger something cold to drink, i’m never thinking about what *they* might think about it. Never, ever, ever. I do these things because they feel like the right thing to do. Sometimes when I am rushed and don’t feel like getting too involved in something, it’s like God will speak right to my heart and tell me, “No. You need to do this.” and I listen and do feel a little guilty that I was going to continue on my way. I listen to God. I don’t listen to man. Yes, others can TOTALLY inspire me. They can definitely change my perspective. We need each other. Sometimes I get stuck in a certain way of thinking and someone comes along to explain it to me in a way i’d never thought of it before…. and it changes my mind. But don’t ever confuse that with the idea that a man has changed me. GOD used that person to change me. If I agree with you, it’s not because I want your favor….. you can take that to the bank. Of course I like to be liked. Of course I like to be thought of fondly. Of course I would rather people see me as a *good person*. But I don’t seek the approval of man. I seek God’s approval.
So the flip side to that would be…… my not-so-good side. Before I even elaborate, let me remind everyone:
“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:13
So I am well aware of the fact that my choices and my actions may cause someone else to stumble. I never want that. I also am aware of the fact that there is a “time and place for everything”. I may joke around with my husband but would not joke or make light of a serious situation. We all have to use proper judgement. I know this. But, for instance, my blog. If you dig deep enough, you will see some vulgarity…. ok, I cussed like a sailor. I’d be lying I said I didn’t still cuss. But here’s the thing with that. If I step on a nail and say “F***”! Does that not mean the same thing as “DARN!” (lol). The meaning behind both of those words is the exact same in that moment. I understand words. I understand that there are common words used today that were once thought of as HIGHLY vulgar. Likewise, there are words we consider profane that were once part of everyday language. I feel that “controlling your tongue” is less about the word you choose and more about the intent behind that word. Get your chains away from me lol. You are not going to convince me otherwise. But the thing is, I am also aware that SO many people just don’t grasp that idea. If I say dammit, they would look at me like the spawn of satan….. and so I refrain in those situations…. not because I think there is anything wrong with my choice of word….. but because I know that word could cause another person to “stumble”. And i’d never want that.
When the Bible tells us:
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10
I believe that in a very, very literal sense. Because, I could look at a man that I consider to be one of the more “righteous” but see that he owns an iPad. And technically, when we compare everything to what Jesus might do, I could say that I don’t believe Jesus would buy an iPad. You might think Jesus would buy an iPad. You could say, “Well, it’s a way to connect with other believers and spread the gospel and blah blah blah blah”…. cut it out.
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
I mean, really. Knock it off. How many starving children could that iPad feed. How many more good deeds could that iPad and iPhone and Macbook and Xbox and whatever other gadget you have, do. Really. Can you really imagine Jesus going into the Apple store and buying an iPad. We’re supposed to strive to be like Jesus, here. So, in knowing this, no man is going to be able to crush my spirit and make me feel like i’m any less “righteous” than he is….. because even his best works are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)
And let me go ahead and rain on the ladies parade for a hot second.
“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10
Imagine, if you will, strolling along with Jesus as His followers did. You’re walking along, listening to His teachings. Could you honestly imagine telling Jesus, “Hold on a sec, i’m gonna run in this outlet really quick, the Coach bags are on sale and they’re selling like hotcakes!”. Or better yet, back that thing up. You wake up and begin to get ready to go walk with Jesus. Are you going to stand in the mirror and curl your hair and do your makeup for an hour? Jesus is sitting in the living room, waiting.
If you compare everything in your life, every possession you own, every thought you entertain, every deed you do, to God’s standards, how do you measure up? And so, now that you’ve ran down the list of your wretchedness, who are you to consider ANYONE foul? Who? Who is filthier than you? Ya know? That’s the tip i’m on. I don’t say ANY of this to judge. I understand people. I understand the world. I understand the pressure. I could talk to a bum on the streets in the same manner in which I would talk to a preacher. I don’t hold either of the two higher or lower than the other. We are all humans fighting human struggles. We’re all on the same playing field with the same things at stake. I’m not judging *anyone*. I’m simply saying, this is why no one is going to convict me to be who i’m not. How must God feel that we worry more about impressing our fellow Christians than doing right by Him? “Don’t let them see you smoke!” But God watches you light up day in and day out. “Don’t post those pictures on Facebook, our church friends might see!” But God watched you turn up all night. Come on now, really. What do I look like trying to impress any man or woman on this planet?
I say these things because, too many times people avoid going to church and fellowshipping with other believers because they feel it will be “too much process” to hide all of their “sins”. I want to encourage people like that. I want to pray for people like that. I want to tell people that, with God in your heart, you can be COMPLETELY transformed from the person you were yesterday. You can have a peace, a blessed assurance, that no matter who you are or where you came from, God can work with it. God’s love is FAR greater than the love of anyone on this planet. Seek HIS approval first and you won’t have to worry about how others might judge you.
(let me give a disclaimer here). This is a touchy subject because some may construe this as an excuse to sin. They think, “Well, God sees me get drunk on Friday nights, let’s keep this party going!”. No. Not quite. Sin is repulsive. If God convicts you to remove filth from your life, that’s what you need to do. You need to compare what you do to what Jesus would do. Many things won’t happen overnight but you need to lean on Jesus, have faith that He will carry you through. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. Some sins are harder to get rid of than others. You may be able to give up your drug addiction easier than you can give up having a lustful eye for pretty women. Don’t let this discourage you. Baby steps. Continue to pray and ask for God’s guidance. God is merciful. He loves you, regardless. The world may turn it’s nose up to you, but God hasn’t forgotten about you…. and those with pure hearts, with pure intentions, *do* exist out there…. and they aren’t judging you. At all. They want to help you. God places all sorts of people in your life. Reach out to them. Don’t excuse your sin but don’t let others beat you down about it, either. Hope this helps someone!