No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
I often think that we view temptation as something that lures us into some despicable sin. But, is that the whole of it? Can there be other things which lure us which may not be quite so obvious? Maybe not quite so dreadful, at least not on a surface level?
How about the approval of others? And, you don’t have to be a people pleaser to get trapped in this one, either. You can be, in fact, one who is willing to do whatever God leads you to do, knowing full well that you will be rejected, by some, and still be willing to do it anyway. But then…
People start “liking” you on social media or in the blog world or on various Christian forums. That is not a bad thing, right? I mean we all need encouragement. That is why we have each other. We need the body of Christ to help build us up in the faith, and to spur us on to good works, and to cheer us on in our Christian walks so that we don’t lose heart, and so that we keep persevering. I mean, that is why we have the body of Christ, right?
But, is there a downside to this? Yes, there is. We can get dependent on those “likes,” i.e. those accolades. And, then what happens if they are not there? And, then we begin to doubt ourselves, and so we begin to fear, “Did I say something wrong?” “Did I get something wrong?” as though these “likes” are what determine if we are walking in fellowship and in obedience to our Lord. Do you see where I am going with this?
Sometimes all these “likes” can be a detriment to our walks of faith, because we get used to having them, and then we can get dependent on them, and then if they are not there, then we can begin this whole thing of self-doubt and fear, because we have gotten our eyes off of Jesus and onto the approval of others. Do you relate?
Life without Likes
When the Lord first called me to this writing ministry, I didn’t get a lot of likes. I didn’t even get much in the way of acknowledgments or approval. In fact, I often had people not liking what I wrote about, because some of it was really tough stuff. But, it didn’t matter to me. Why? Because I was not used to being liked. I was used to rejection. And, I knew when I accepted this call of God on my life that I was accepting the fact I would not be liked.
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:17-19 NIV.
I knew this was God’s calling on my life, and I accepted it. I was willing to write whatever he gave me to write fully expecting that what he had me share would not be met with approval, and I was ok with that. I knew my assignment was just to write down what the Lord showed me, and then I was to place it on the internet, and then let God take it from there.
It was not my job to promote myself, or to try to get readers, or to try to say things in a way which would get me “liked.” That was not my goal. My goal was just to obey the Lord in doing what he said, regardless of whether or not what he had me write was met with approval. In fact, I wrote on one blog for years and never got a “like” or even much in the way of a response from anyone, and I was ok with that, because I was doing what God told me to do, and I was just the messenger. People’s approval of me was not necessary. I knew God approved me, and that was all I needed.
And, not only did I not get much in the way of “likes,” but I faced a lot of opposition and false accusations and disapproval and people fighting against me and persecuting me for what I was writing, too, in some places. That was hard, I admit it, but even then the Lord was my support, and I trusted in him, and I went to him with it all, and took it before him in prayer, but not just for his comfort, but in tears I would cry out to him, and I would ask him to show me if I was doing anything wrong, or if I needed to correct something.
You see, I can, in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, endure opposition, as long as I know that I am doing what God has called me to do, and that I meet with his approval. But, I don’t stubbornly refuse correction or advice, when given, either, for I take it to the Lord in prayer, because sometimes other people may see something in me that I am not seeing, and so I cannot disregard counsel, but I have to pray it through and see if the Lord is confirming it or denying it, and then I can move forward.
Although I know I am doing what the Lord has called me to do, I can’t assume that I always get everything right, in other words. I need to remain humble and willing to receive correction or counsel, when it is needed, but to make certain it is from the Lord and that this is not Satan trying to discourage me, too, and then I can go on with what the Lord has called me to do, resting assured that he is on my side.
All of a sudden I started getting followers and “likes” and comments from people and accolades, and it was so encouraging. Although I did not take credit for what the Lord was doing through me, but I gave him the glory, it still felt good to be treated kindly, and to have encouragement and support from other humans. And, that is a good thing, right?
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 NIV
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
But, then, I found that I looked forward to those approvals, not that I was working for them, or that I changed the message in order to be liked, but that I was beginning to look to them for my approval and my sense of self-worth, and if they were not there, sometimes I felt sad, or disappointed, or I began to doubt myself and to question if I had heard God correctly.
Now, it is good to make certain we are hearing God correctly, and to be open to correction, but we really have to guard against this looking for human approval of what we do, because if we are doing what God says, and we are saying what he gives us to say, it is not about whether or not people approve us, but it is about whether or not they believe in Jesus Christ.
And, you know, we don’t have to even know that, i.e. we don’t even have to know how God is using it. All we need to know is that we are obeying our Lord, and doing what he says, and then we leave the results to him, and that way he truly does get all the glory, and all the praise, and all the accolades!
What the Lord is encouraging me about today is that I need to refocus. I need to not be dependent at all on the approval of other humans or on getting “likes” or comments, in order to feel as though what I am doing is right. If I am obeying the Lord, and he is assuring me that what I am doing is of him, and that he has a purpose for it, even if I can’t see it now, then that is what I must do, even if no one “likes” what I am doing, and even if no one else approves of what the Lord is giving me to write, for I don’t write for the glory of man but for the glory of God and for his honor and praise.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' name
When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil…
Thursday, January 18, 2018, 7:54 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for what you are teaching me today. Help me to always remember that my hope has to be built on you and on you alone, and not on human approval. Amen!