June 22, 2021
Worn Out From Seeking Approval
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"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3 (NIV)
I closed the computer. If only I could also close the 10,000 tabs open in my mind - each one telling me I had failed somehow, some way, somebody.
If only I could shut down the urgency to correct people's perceptions of me, to "set them straight" in their assumptions! If only I could run away from difficult relationships, hard-to-have conversations and that needling feeling that I won't ever measure up to what people expect.
The constant noise is exhausting. And that's just inside my head.
Do you hear it too?
The weight of walking well with people is tiring. On a particularly hard day, I flipped through my notepad of memory verses and came upon Hebrews 12:3: "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
This verse concludes a passage about running the race with endurance - the race being our Christian lives. Jesus, our perfect example, finished His life on earth with a victory lap of true endurance. "For the joy set before him," says the author, "he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, NIV). Jesus pressed through incredible pain and heartbreak to accomplish our salvation.
You might be thinking - like me - I'm not Jesus! I'm not the Son of God! That's right - we aren't! But the author of Hebrews tells us that He is our example, which indicates we're to emulate His endurance. And I can't think of anywhere I need endurance more than when I encounter "opposition from sinners."
Opposition from sinners can be persecution for the gospel. But it can also be the wearying, everyday struggle of relationships with fallen people: coworkers, bosses, children, spouses, in-laws. All the people God has called us to love can also be the people who make us want to lose heart.
We struggle beneath the weight of their expectations and disapproval. We become discouraged when God calls us to a life significantly different than a peer's. For many of us, following Jesus is a daily choice between serving the opinions of people and serving our Father God.
This is why Jesus is our example. Never once did He make a decision for human approval. And never once did He stop loving those same, hurtful humans. He lived in the incredible tension of God's leading and God's love. He was committed to obeying the Father, which inevitably resulted in disappointment for some of His followers.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus describes four kinds of soil. (Matthew 13:1-23) Only one kind, the good kind, received the seed of truth. Talking about this parable, someone once made an incredible point: Even Jesus disappointed people. Even Jesus was rejected by three-quarters of the people who heard His word. What makes us think we will fare better than Him?
Jesus obeyed God's leading on His life, and because of His obedience, we get to be called children of God. I am so grateful He did not lose heart! What a reminder when I get weary and broken down by this world: He was consistent even unto death. I've not been asked to die for my world. But I have been asked to die to myself. (Galatians 2:20) Will I lay down my need for human approval so I can run this race well?
Endurance can only be cultivated by facing hard things. Sometimes opposition comes in the form of real persecution, such as many of our brothers and sisters experience around the world. And sometimes opposition comes in the form of disapproval or guilt from the people around us. Christ is our Approver - and because of Him, we can stay alert. We can be strong-hearted. We can run the race.
Father God, thank You for caring about my weariness. Thank You for loving me as I run this race and for strengthening me for what seems like too much to bear. Help me love You first so I love others better. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (NIV)
Matthew 13:23, "But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown." (NIV)
In what ways do you feel weary or like you're losing heart, especially in your relationships? How does Jesus' example of endurance encourage you today? Share with us in the comments!
© 2021 by Phylicia Masonheimer. All rights reserved.