God Promises to Relieve the Soul’s Burden of Seeking Human Approval
Suggested Reading: I Corinthians 4:1-5
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself—I Corinthians 4:3
If you did not know Paul and his humbleness of spirit you would think he was being arrogant and snobbish when he wrote that. You might misjudge his words as callous and prideful. But Paul was expressing what should be truth and the way of thinking all of God’s children, by all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and live to please the Lord alone.
Judging others has become so ordinary and common we do not even think much about it. Social media sites display a “thumbs up or down” emoji, if you use a shopping service at the end you can rate your experience through a group of stars: one being the lowest and 5 being the highest. Judgement of performance, personality, attitude; these have all become a natural part of life and earthly experience. Some people thrive off of the judgment of others, some are devastated when they do not receive favorable reviews, and some become frozen in place, unsure of what to do next, or if they should do anything at all.
People were judging Paul’s as well as the other Apostles ministries and their words or assessment were not always kind or true. Paul let his critics know that their judgment was of little concern or consequence because, as a servant of God, entrusted with the mysteries of God, (which is Christ Jesus and the Gospel) it was God and God alone whose judgment about their performance mattered.
When we read the gospels we read that people were constantly judging the way Jesus conducted his ministry. Some criticized him for keeping company with tax collectors, some for the way he interacted with women or had women followers, some judged him because he hung out with sinners and those considered the dregs of society, and he was even judged because he healed the sick on the Sabbath. But Christ did not and could not let the judgments of others impact him or determine the shape of his ministry, mission, or activities. During one sermon to the crowds Jesus stated, “For john came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matt. 11:18-19)
Jesus knew no matter what he did he would be judged incorrectly. That is why he did not seek human approval. He had been sent by his Father, entrusted with a mission only he could fulfill and just as Paul expressed, the judgment of humans was of no consequence to him and had no bearing on his ministry, person, or the way in which he conducted his life.
It is said, to be misjudged by those we hardly know and those we know do not care for us, is of little concern; to be judged by those we like and are in friendship with is difficult to bear and at times excruciatingly painful; but to be judged by those we love and who love us is emotionally devastating and soul crushing.
Even as hard as these judgments can be there are none that will matter more than the judgment of God over us, the judgment of Christ to whom we are bonded in service, entrusted with the work he has appointed us to do. It is his judgment that will set us free us and release us to continue our work, ministry, and tasks in peace and in good conscience.
If you find yourself needing human approval in order to do the work the Lord has sent you to do, in order to have stay emotionally, mentally, and spiritually secure then pray for God to strengthen you in this area so that you are not looking for human approval only Gods, which is the only judgment and approval that is necessary. Let’s Pray
Dear God, it hurts when others, especially those closest to us, misjudge us. At times, we are not only wounded but become stuck and cannot move forward or do anything because we do not get the approval we are looking or hoping for. Help us to forgive others for judging us unfairly, but more than anything help us to get out of the habit of looking for and needing the approval of others. As Paul so aptly put it, it should be of little concern to us when people judge us or our work; the only judgement that counts is from you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen