Jesus lived for the approval of one person only — the Father. Throughout the Bible we see Him breaking down religious expectations and righteously breaking the rules of society while still fulfilling the law. He clearly demonstrated that gaining the approval of man was not His objective.
Salvation Over Reputation
Jesus was much less concerned with the social status of Zacchaeus and He was much more concerned with the condition of his heart.
In the story of Zacchaeus, we find a rich, chief tax collector in Jericho. He was despised by the Romans because of his dishonest practices and was an outcast in his community. When Jesus was passing through his hometown, Zacchaeus was eager to see Him among the crowds. Though Zacchaeus was a reject among his peers, Jesus chose to call him out of the masses. Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house that night and many people (particularly the religious people) were displeased. It was offensive that Jesus would socialize with such a “sinner.” However, Jesus was much less concerned with the social status of Zacchaeus and He was much more concerned with the condition of his heart. Jesus led Zacchaeus to salvation that day to the glory of God (Luke 19: 1-10). Jesus took one of the most despised people in town and chose to love Him. He clearly shows us that each individual is worth His love and forgiveness, regardless of who they are or what they have done. How many opportunities do we miss out to share the love of Christ because of outward perceptions or appearances?
Love Over Law
To heal him would be an act of compassion and love but it would also contradict the law.
In Mark 3: 1-6, Jesus visited a synagogue where there were many people. Among them was a man with a shriveled hand. Jesus questioned those around him to see whether it was lawful to heal this man on the Sabbath. To heal him would be an act of compassion and love but it would also contradict the law. The people were silent. In spite of the crowd’s disapproval, Jesus said to the crippled man, “Stretch out your hand.” When he stretched it out, his hand was immediately restored. Though the people had just witnessed a miracle, their hearts grew callous. Jesus chose to demonstrate the Father’s love and he healed a man. Jesus came to bring freedom from the law because he was the fulfillment of the law! Jesus always knew the right place and time to do miracles in order to teach a greater message. As Christians, we often shy away from doing radical things because we are afraid of receiving judgement from other people. What would it look like to put listening to God and loving people over keeping religious traditions?
Authenticity over Performance
In Luke 7:36-50, a pharisee (religious person) invited Jesus over for dinner. During their meal, a woman from the city came to visit him. She was a profound sinner and not welcome at the home of a pharisee. But she came anyways. At the sight of Jesus, she fell to the floor, weeping at His feet. As she wept, she washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. And as she washed his feet, she kissed them and anointed them with expensive perfume. The pharisee and his guests were in disbelief because Jesus had allowed such a sinful woman to touch him. However, Jesus was not offended by her sins — he was in love with her faith. Though she could have been publicly shamed for performing such an act, she believed that Jesus could rescue her. From the moment she entered his presence, she humbly knelt at his feet and he offered her forgiveness. She new the weight of her sins but she had faith that Jesus had the power to deliver. Regardless of the social humility she could have experienced, in humble adoration, she emptied herself before Jesus. Jesus, in the midst of dining with religious men, welcomed the woman not as a burden but as a friend and she received forgiveness. Jesus set her as an example to those in the room.
Again and again, we see Jesus doing radical things in the face of people that did not approve of Him or His actions.
Again and again, we see Jesus doing radical things in the face of people that did not approve of Him or His actions. Jesus stirred up society with passion and fire and gave no second thought to the opinions of others. He knew that even if people hated, accused, and mocked Him, He would obey the will of the Father.
By letting go of what others think of us, we can effectively start living out our full potential as kingdom and culture shakers. Here are 3 ways we can follow Jesus’ ultimate example and avoid the approval trap in our lives:
- Examine who you are trying to please and whose opinion ultimately matters.
- Always look further than yourself. Serve and love other people who are in need regardless of what others may think.
- Humble yourself. Strip away your pride and let people see the real you. Be honest with your shortcomings and liberate other people to do the same.
In what ways are you letting the opinions of others stop you from realizing the fullness of God in your life and the lives of others?
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