Words in Red are excerpts from my journal as I have been taking the words of Jesus and letting them speak directly to my own heart.
John 5:44 – “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes only from God?”
Jesus asks the questions that cut right to the heart of the matter. Like a surgeon, He uses his words as a scalpel to cut down to the tumor and expose it. But he won’t remove it without our cooperation. There is no general anesthesia. We need to be awake for this procedure.
This cancerous tumor is called the Fear of Man. It grows unchecked in the unhealthy environment of lust for the world. When we love this world and what it offers, then we are forced to serve its masters – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). The Operations Manager for these worldly slave drivers is the Fear of Man, since people will impact everything we lust after. They either become pawns in our desire for satisfaction or they impede our achievements. Even the best relationships – like those between parent and child or between spouses – can be polluted and poisoned by fear of man as it twists those relationships into something dysfunctional that they were never meant to be.
Jesus, I hear you say here that as long as I accept praise – look for, long for and crave praise – from people, I can’t truly have all my trust in You. I can’t approach You in humility and Truth as long as my heart belongs to another. It’s an adulterous situation that You won’t be a part of. Where am I getting my identity needs met – in the praise or judgment of other people or from my Creator and Savior? I’m foolish and short-sighted if I do the former, but how often do I do that?
I can’t serve two masters. If I am pursuing the praise of man, there is no way that I can pursue the praise and acceptance that comes from God. Even if my heart wants Your acceptance, there is no way I can pursue both at the same time.
Lord, remind me today, in both my successes and my failures, that when people praise me, correct me or even criticize me, that You approve of me. May Your joy in me be my sustenance and my “craving” today. May I have a single focus – to obtain the praise that comes from God!
- Maybe you are struggling with rejection from someone or a group of people that is making you feel like a failure or a loser. How do the words of Jesus put everything into its proper perspective?
- Do you see how Jesus does NOT want us to put weight in the praises of people (which are fickle and fleeting) or in the judgments of people (which are based on their assessment of us, not on the truth). When we allow people’s pleasure or displeasure in us to control our emotions and sense of worth we are negating the value that Jesus put on us when He purchased us with His blood on the cross.
The value of an item is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. You never know what someone thinks is valuable and what price they’re willing to pay for it. A piece of clothing that was worn by George Washington could sell for thousands of dollars! No one can wear the clothing again, but because he touched it and wore it, people will pay a lot of money to own it.
The price that was paid for you determines your value. Can anyone on earth put a price on the life of the Son of God? Could anyone pay that price or outbid God for you? Not at all! You truly are ‘price-less’. Let that knowledge keep you steady in the face of the Fear of Man that wants to rule your heart and grab your focus.