Impressiveness - An Alluring Bondage

 


A good friend of mine who pastors a church here told me one time that we can either decide to be impressive or authentic, but we can't be both. I had never really given it much thought, but at that moment I realized that I was a prisoner of the opinions of men. I had cared too much about them. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:10:

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." NKJV

The fear of God is promoted often above and beyond the fear of mankind in the scriptures, and the fear of man presents a terrible bondage for all. You may not realize it, but you may even have a bondage to human opinion and not realize it. I'm not saying we shouldn't care at all about the thoughts of others, because the Bible also says:

"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety." Proverbs 24:6

We aren't meant to operate without wise counsel when needed. However, the problem for most isn't taking counsel unless the counsel is a form of criticism or reproof, which is perceived as disapproval. A fear of criticism or disapproval from wise men lingers in the heart and mind of many. A fear of failure, rejection, or low-status is usually the motivation. I see it in little children all of the time. They like to be "made much of," and we adults like it too! Just look at Facebook or other social media accounts. Probably one of the main sources of fear and anxiety among men and women is the fear of rejection or even the perceived fear of rejection. Nobody likes to be thought little of, or to look foolish. However, we actually look more foolish when we try to be proud and impressive and not humble and authentic. I have personally projected my own fears of rejection upon my wife, mistreated her, misrepresented her, and started a great deal of trouble for us because of what I perceived she thought based on a lingering doubt I had in my mind about her opinion of me. Solomon wrote:

"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1

I ran from reality because I feared a perceived disapproval. We've all done things we aren't proud of, and certainly the lingering regret of foolish decisions can train us to be more wise when making future decisions. However, we can trap ourselves in the prison of the "fear of man" when we fight to manipulate them to conform to our own perceptions of how we think they should respond to us. Take for example the common courtesy or lack thereof in most. We get angry when others don't respond how we think they should or give us the credit we think we are due. However, their response much of the time has nothing to do with us. They may just be having a rough day.

We also tend to forget what God is doing during those times. Have you ever thought that maybe God wants to bring you low so that He will be crowned as the Lord of your life? Have you chosen to step down off of that throne you are sitting on? How are you doing as King or Queen of your own destiny? I was doing lousy. The more I tried to "save face," the worse things would become for myself and those around me. I am sharing this because I know that I am not the only one to struggle with this. 

There are probably a lot of things that could be said concerning this issue, but there are a couple of things that helped me overcome this problem. #1 - Belief in God through Jesus Christ. My only hope in life or death is the Gospel or "Good News" of Jesus Christ. When I fail in one point or another in my walk, I look to Christ as the hope for the future. I can't save myself, and am totally dependent upon God to rescue me from this body of death (Romans 7). I have no illusions that anything good obtained in this world is permanent. But, I am laying my hope upon the finished work of Jesus Christ and the future promises of God. He is my rock and hope beyond this rotten fading world. If you don't get this right, then you will have a hope built upon a shifting and failing foundation. #2 - Care for others, but do not be a slave of their perceptions of you. God calls us to Love Him and to love others, and this is promoted regardless of what those others think about you. The Bible tells us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31), love our spouse (Titus 2:4-5/ Ephesians 5:25), love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and love is a verb which is fueled by devotion to God and our fellow man. Husbands fight for their marriage because they are committed. They are committed because they love God and they love their wife, even when they don't feel like it. You love your enemies because you want them to find peace and shelter from the judgment that is coming upon the sons and daughters of men. You love your neighbor because you are in this world together and we are ambassadors for the Lord. When we are in bondage to the opinions of men, we hesitate to exercise this commitment to God and others. Think of that person who wasn't as friendly to you as you would have liked them to be. If your judgment is clouded with your anger towards their response, then you won't love them as God intended. When your spouse is "less than pleasant," you won't take it personal and instead will think of ways to bless them. We have to fight off the wolves that pursue us to return to the prison of doubting castle. My Dad always told me not to forget that even when we are good at something, there is always someone out there who is better, and that should humble us. We aren't the center of attention in this world, there is only "One" who is worthy. Some of the most significant times in my life that did the most good are when I was rejected and demoted. Oh how God loves us! I can tell you story after story of how God used my own failures and blunders to humble me and bring me into subjection to His mighty name. So take heart, and lay down that bondage to the opinions of men. Exercise the principles I shared in my first post. The battle begins in the mind (Philippians 4:8-9), and then we need to exercise those thoughts to a helpful and loving conclusion.

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