I wrote this article several years ago after someone very close to me made the comment that I was deluding myself when it came to my relationship with Christ. Then recently, someone made a comment that once again gave me pause and as I meditated on it, I felt directed back to this bit of writing. Going through self-evaluation is painful and, if the person is someone we really admire greatly in the faith, it can cause real doubt when it comes to our relationship with God. Although self-evaluation isn’t a bad thing, and is probably pretty healthy, remembering whose opinion really matters is paramount.
I found out yet again just how much I am affected by what other’s think of my relationship with Christ. Funny how a comment by one person can shake how I view myself in Christ. Trying to divorce oneself from basing, at least in part, how we view our relationship in Christ on what others think is no easy task. The favorite line mostly is “I think they are decieving themselves.” I know it is said out of concern for the salvation of the person in question, but it continually leaves you with an unsettled feeling of “am I?”
Yesterday I began to think of who really matters when it comes to my relationship with Christ. Do my parent’s opinion matter? Do my sibling’s opinions matter? Does my pastor’s opinion matter? Do my church’s opinion matter? Do my friend’s opinions matter? Where does God fit into all of this? I wonder sometimes if we don’t become so consumed by the first questions that God becomes increasingly squeezed out of the equation. Sure, our heart’s desire is to please God! But, I get the feeling that, at least for me, pleasing God was the same as pleasing everyone else. If everyone else believes in my relationship with God, then there is no need to question what God thinks because obviously these other people are Spirit filled and have a direct line to God and surely they know better than I about my relationship with Christ. But do they?
During my personal time of study, I stumbled upon a reading in the scriptures that described the events leading up to the choosing of David as the Israelite King. Samuel was the prophet of God chosen by God to hand-pick the new King. As God’s prophet, he had the inside scoop on what God was truly looking for…or so it seemed.
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that people don’t know what goes on in our hearts. They can only judge based on the outward appearances and even the most well-meaning (and Spirit-filled) can and do get it wrong. Samuel was the prophet that God used to appoint a new King. In I Samuel we find God telling Samuel that looks aren’t everything. Samuel, as you know, followed God’s instructions and showed up to pick the new King. He took one look at Eliab and said this is for sure the guy. But God’s response must have given Samuel a huge headache. God said, “not so fast…Eliab’s not the guy for the job…you see, I’ve looked into his heart and eliminated him.”
We have been trained to look at people and eliminate them based on how they look or some other aspect of their life that we are sure God isn’t pleased with. But I gather from this that our opinion doesn’t really matter much to God. He says, “hold up, quit rushing to judgement…you don’t know what’s going on in their heart…only I do!” I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone to bed feeling really dejected because some well-meaning person thought I was living in a delusional wonderland. It was in one of those instances, as I asked God for guidance and direction that He reminded me of a couple of really important steps that I must follow in my walk with Him –
(i) Quit basing how I feel about my salvation on what other people think. Their opinions, no matter how well intentioned, don’t take into account what He sees…my heart; and
(ii) Stay daily before Him! Ask Him if there is any area in my life that is unpleasing. Daily place Him first and let Him have charge. Put on all the armour that He has given us, then…STAND! Ephesians 6:13 tells us to put on that armour to fight against the devil and once “it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.” (The Message) Sometimes I firmly believe that devil shows up in the guise of concerned Christians, trying to take away the security we have in Him.
People will always look at the outward and that can and will keep us in bondage to them. I’m too old to be in bondage to anyone but Jesus Christ. Sure I want the “good housekeeping” stamp of approval from my family, friends, pastor and church but what I really want is the stamp of approval from God. The first group of people can and will get it wrong. Why? Because just like was pointed out in the story of Samuel’s choice for King, they are human. All of us lean on our own understanding! Thankfully there is one, the most important One, that looks deep inside and then bases His opinion of me (and you) on that!
It’s not fun when people ascribe motives to us, write us off as being somehow less than they are, try to take away our salvation based off of their understanding of the scriptures. But frankly, it’s of no matter because in the end, their opinion doesn’t matter a hill of beans! As long as He is first in our lives, we can’t go wrong!