Luke 6:26 – “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
I have recently been convicted of how easily I mistake the acceptance of men with the acceptance that comes from God. As an American, I have been culturally trained that if people don’t accept the message that I presented, or if they don’t like it, to ask a few probing questions – not all of them unworthy:
“Did I say something wrong?”
“Did I not say it well?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
And while there very well may be something wrong with what we said, or how we said it, and I’m certain that there’s things wrong with who said it (at least, when we’re talking about me), this still is not what the Scripture is getting at when it calls on us to not depend upon what others think as the litmus test for the truth of our words.
It isn’t as though people’s anger is what makes words true, but nor is their good pleasure. What makes words true, and what makes a message and a messenger good, is their submission to, dependence upon, and conformity to the Word of God – both written and embodied. After all, what makes ‘legalism’ legalism and not obedience is the posture of the heart with regard to men and God. An obedient man obeys the law of God because of his great love and submission to God. In fact, he, in the moment he is submitted to the Holy Spirit and functioning in obedience, is joyful in his submission and finds joy in his obedience. Thus to preach and proclaim truth, depending upon God, and loving God and relying upon God’s approval brings joy and delight and worship – even when talking about subjects ordinarily considered difficult, or hard or heavy.
When we seek after the pleasure of men, when we seek after the glory that comes from men, and when we are more concerned with who men think that we are, we lose sight of the cross and our regeneration. We lose sight of the tremendous work that Jesus has done to reclaim us from the words of men and the power of Satan, and to remake us as saints and servants – friends and brothers – in the household of God.
We have experienced the first-fruits of our final redemption from sin; our heart has been resurrected. We await a bodily resurrection, and, while we wait, our flesh testifies to the sin of our first father Adam, but there is a still, small voice that whispers over the raging fire of our own wicked nature: “Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”
Do not lose heart, my brothers and sisters. Do not be discouraged when men speak ill of you – but rather, find your satisfaction, your confidence, your name – indeed all that you are – at the cross of Christ and in His Word over and through and in your life.
2 Cor. 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”