I remember when I was a young boy and how my mother used to teach me the Bible. Many scriptures were a part of that learning process, but there was one that seemed to have the most impact on me. It was Mark 8:38:
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.
Do you know why this scripture had such an impact upon me?
Because, it placed me right in the middle of my fears. You see, I cared very deeply how I was viewed by my friends and the people around me. My whole self view was very deeply wrapped up in other’s opinions of me. We all have a need to be loved, but I had a need to be liked. To be ostracized or ridiculed by the people I wanted to be accepted by was one of the worst things that could happen to me.
Now, at the same time, I read the words of Jesus in which He states that those who are ashamed of Him in this world of those He will be ashamed of before His Father when He returns.
Wow! This placed me in a tough situation. I didn’t want my friends to think I was “weird” but I also didn’t want to go to hell. The competing desires left me stressed about what I was going to do.
The stress that I was going through is not restricted to me or to a certain period in life. Many people struggle with this stress – , older people, younger folks, kids. Fear knows no age restriction.
You see, Satan has a hierarchy of goals in your life.
The first goal is to keep you from going to heaven. If he accomplishes this goal, then he succeeds in getting you to serve him. Fear of other people’s opinions is a powerful tool toward accomplishing that goal.
If you are saved, he cannot accomplish that goal. So, he moves on to goal number two:
To make you ineffective in reaching others for the kingdom of God.
He uses many tools against the believer to accomplish his purpose. He seeks to get the believer to focus on self. If he can get you to focus on what you don’t have, then he can steal the fruit of the Spirit from your life. Without the fruit of the Spirit, you don’t have the power to reach anyone.
Satan also seeks to get the believer bound up by what other people think of them. If he can succeed in making you a man-pleaser, then he can stop you from being used by God to further the kingdom of God.
Galatians 1:10 AMP: Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).
Notice how Paul uses the past tense when speaking of his fear of man. Paul stated that a desire for popularity with men was in direct conflict with a life that is pleasing to God. His words are so strong that the point is made that he could not be a servant of Christ and please man at the same time!
What does it mean to be ashamed?
Properly, disgraced, like someone “singled out” because they misplaced their confidence or support (“believed the big lie”); to be ashamed (personally humiliated).
Singled out for humiliation because you believed “the big lie”?
Did you notice something here?
You cannot be ashamed of Christ unless you believe at some level that what Jesus has told you is “the big lie”.
If you are solid in your faith of who Christ is; who you are in Him; and are assured that what He says is true, then you will be confident and will instead believe that those who don’t believe Christ are those who are deceived!
Yet, many of us have a goal to be liked. Oh, I know, we hide these desires behind deceptions concocted by the enemy. It would be intolerant to speak of something as the truth if someone else doesn’t want to believe it.
Well, the problem with tolerance is that it has been marketed as the loving response to those who don’t believe when in reality; it is a fearful and selfish response to the truth!
If you know someone is dying without Jesus, how is it loving not to tell them and to give them the solution?
What type of people have we become?
Our fear of man and desire to please people above all bears no resemblance to the icons and examples of our faith.
Jesus had no problem sharing the truth to the religious and the nonreligious. How strong is it to look Pilate right in the eye and defy his control over you?
What about the apostles? If they were man-pleasers, none of you would have ever heard the Name Jesus!
If God’s people doubt the veracity of His words, no wonder we are not in revival!
Now, if you are going to stand before your friends at the final judgment – if they hold your eternal destiny in their hands, then I will recant my words. We are giving people way more power than they deserve!
A funny thing happens on the way to freedom from the opinions of others – you can actually love people at a greater level than you can when you are afraid of them!
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16
If I am ashamed, I am thinking only of myself and not those who will be lost without Jesus.
Lord, help me to love others more than I care about my own popularity!