When negative, however, what other people think can just as easily cause me to spiral into negative emotions:
I have often wondered what God thinks about the range of emotions petty little words and attitudes can have on me. Regardless of how our society glorifies the personalities that easily brush off other people’s opinions and stay “true to themselves,” how does God actually want me to respond to praise, censure, or just my overall feeling (true or imaginary) about what other people think?
When I searched the internet for what other Christians have to say about this topic, I found an overabundance of pep-talks insisting that you’re never truly free until you truly don’t care what others think, or that God loves you just the way you are, so it doesn’t matter what others think.
While I appreciate the underlying sentiments that I found in those articles, I wasn’t looking for someone to reassure me of how much God loves me as I am. I felt dissatisfied until I stumbled on an article by John Piper that brought me straight to the biblical truth at the heart of the matter.
In his article, Piper juxtaposed several passages of Scripture that seem to contradict each other on this matter:
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
After contrasting these passages (as well as others), he brings clarity to the issue by reminding Christians of what the ultimate purpose is behind all of these texts.
"Question: How is the tension between these two groups of passages to be resolved? Answer: By realizing that our aim in life is for "Christ to be magnified in our bodies whether by life or by death" (Philippians 1:19-20). In other words, with Paul, we do care—really care—about what others think of Christ. Their salvation hangs on what they think of Christ. And our lives are to display His truth and beauty. So we must care what others think of us as representative of Christ. Love demands it.
This answer satisfied my search, because it reminded me of what is truly important—Christ’s reputation. What really matters is how clearly people are seeing Christ through me.
I’ll conclude with Piper’s conclusion to his article:
Yes, we want people to see us with approval when we are displaying that Jesus is infinitely valuable to us, but we dare not make the opinion of others the measure of our faithfulness. They may be blind and resistant to truth. Then the reproach we bear is no sign of our unfaithfulness or lack of love.
How is your confidence in your identity and awareness of Christ’s reputation doing today?
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