I will tell you up front, that I am strange, weird, geeky and nerdy. I am perfectly fine with that now. I say now because for many years my self-worth and esteem was tied to the fact that I didn’t fit in. Other peoples opinions of me were big parts of my decision-making process. Today we are going to discuss finding freedom from the opinions of others. We want to say it doesn’t matter, but be honest. We do care. That’s okay we are human. God wants us to connect with other people, so we do care what others think of us. However, the problem occurs when the opinion of others becomes more valuable to us than the opinion of God. It’s then that we give up the freedom of knowing we are secure in God. We become slaves to the opinions of others.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses this same concern. In the last study, Freedom: This is my Life?, we learned that false leaders came to the Christians in Galatia and started sharing lies. Instead of preaching salvation by grace through faith, they were convincing the Galatians that this was not enough to be saved, and that the Galatians would also need to take on their Jewish customs.
Why would the Galatians believe these teachings? For one, these false leaders not only attacked the gospel Paul preached, they also attacked Paul himself. By discrediting Paul and his authority to preach the gospel. They successfully convinced the Galatians to turn from the true gospel.
They brought up Paul’s sinful past. Don’t you hate when people do that? So in the first part of Galatians chapter one, Paul defends the gospel. He reiterates the true gospel that he left them with that says they are saved by grace through faith. But in verses 11-24 Paul starts to defend himself.
You may think Paul is boasting here. Look closely, Paul is boasting of Christ not himself. In Galatians 1:10-13 he says:
Galatians 1:10-13 New International Version (NIV)
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
Look at what he says again: “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” We are either servants of Christ or slaves to the opinions of others. The gospel message he received was not from man, but from Jesus Christ Himself. Paul did not hear a sermon, nor did he receive a gospel track. He got this message straight from God, not man. And because Paul is more concerned with the opinion of God than the opinion of man, he is not fazed by the false teaches trying to ruin his reputation.
Who are you trying to please?
If you’re at work and you’re bitter that your boss doesn’t give you enough credit or pat you on the back enough, who are you trying to please? If you feel you need to constantly defend yourself to other people, who are you trying to please? If you get discouraged because you don’t have as many social media likes, or comments or hearts as someone else, who are you trying to please? There is a difference between serving others because that’s what God called you to do, and working for their approval. Which one are you doing? Your answer to that question is the difference between living free in Christ and living as a slave to the opinions of others.
The opinion of these false teachers did not get Paul off focus. We cannot forget that our purpose and value come from God, not what others think of us. Paul did not need to answer these false teachers when he was called by God. In the same way, we do not need to worry about the opinion of others when it concerns doing what God has called us to do.
This is not saying do what you want and forget about everyone else. Do what God tells you and the people that are trying to tear you down, don’t have an leg to stand on. You are doing, what God has told you to do. I do believe God places those things in our lives to help guide us in our purpose. But when we start listening to others and valuing their option over God’s, that is when we become slaves to the opinions of others.We desperately need this lesson in our lives now more than ever. We live in such a time of comparison and people pleasing, so much so that we have made the thoughts of others an idol. The purpose God has called you to might be challenged like Paul’s, but when you know Who calls you, you have the freedom to boldly and unapologetically be the woman that God is calling you to be.