“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 (NLT).
May is a time of the year when I typically feel a lot like Gumby. For those of you who don’t know, “Gumby” was a popular clay-animated show back in the day (early ’80s, in my case). Like Gumby, I often feel bent and stretched in all different directions. Along with work, school is wrapping up for our son Evan and lots of end-of-the year events are taking place. There are also birthday celebrations, summer camp registrations, yard work, and housework to be done. Finding time with my husband is often a challenge, since we usually have to split up a lot on the weekends, in order to get things accomplished.
I often feel challenged by the word “yes.” Meaning, I feel like there are daily requests of me and my time that I’m faced to give a “yes” or “no” to. As I have written before, I am a people pleaser. It is something that I have always struggled with. Where most days, I feel like I can say yes or no very easily, there are many times when I feel frozen or unable to at all. Those times are usually in my busy seasons. Also, those are the times when I really want to say yes, but know that it might not be the best answer and that means I might have to disappoint someone.
It all boils down to self confidence. Thanks to many years of therapy, I know this about myself. I used to believe that I could attain self worth from outside things or people. However, that false belief led to years of pain and negative consequences that could have been avoided had I looked to the only one who is able to give me the approval I need.
My Bible time this week covered Acts Chapters 10 through 13. These chapters really focus on what it means to be an “apostle” of Jesus Christ. There are many lessons we learn from the example the apostles have set in being bold, honest and committed to sharing the Word of Jesus Christ.
I want to focus on Chapters 10 and 11, specifically. Peter gives testimony to the Jewish believers of his visit to Cornelius’ home and how he preached the good news of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was a Roman army officer and he was a Gentile. He was described as “a devout, God-fearing man” (See Acts 10:2). During that time, Gentiles were often considered “unclean” and it was common for Jewish believers to treat them as such. It was against their law for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile’s home or even associate with a Gentile.
God spoke to Peter and told him he must not see anyone as “impure” or “unclean” (See Acts 10:9-29). Peter’s response to God is swift and obedient. He boldly faces the Jewish believers and preaches to them of God’s call to not exclude the Gentiles from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. He tells them, “The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles” Acts 11:12 (NLT).
It is amazing that Peter had such a commitment to preaching God’s Word and that he followed his call so easily. Now that is quite the opposite of people pleasing. Peter had faith that God would be with him and nothing stopped him from fulfilling God’s call to him. He didn’t worry about what the others thought. He stepped out in faith and proclaimed truth, because he felt called to do so and he wanted to be obedient.
What an example Peter is for me in my life. It doesn’t matter who approves of me, because God does. All I should be concerned about is earning His approval. God knows me and He knows everything that I am faced with on a daily basis. He says, “…you are precious to me. You are honored and I love you” Isaiah 43:4 (NLT). He tells me, that “beauty comes from within, which is so precious to God” 1 Peter 3:4 (NLT).
God thinks I am deserving, honored, beautiful, and precious. These are the truths to hold onto in my life. I find freedom in that. I believe it is a freedom worth standing up for and making a priority in my life. By doing so, there may be times I need to say no to something that just doesn’t serve His good. It is not people I should seek to please, if I am seeking Him first.
Heavenly Father, help me to remember that I only need to go to you for approval. When I feel tugged and pulled from all directions, help me call upon your spirit for wisdom and guidance. Thank you for your Word showing me what it means to truly live a life in truth and freedom through the Apostles example. Thank you for the love of Your Son, Jesus Christ in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.