I’ve been the one surrounded by encouraging people after preaching a sermon. But I’ve also been the one ignored and seemingly rejected. And I’m learning to be okay with both.
I often find myself deceived by the applause of man. Every time I publish a message, I find myself discouraged. I hardly ever get the response that I expect. Each week, I pour my heart into the Bible. Sometimes, to the point of mental exhaustion. Only to receive a handful of likes on Facebook. And it’s quite discouraging.
But I shouldn’t even think those thoughts. Let alone write them. But I doubt I’m the only one who tries to please people over God. And so, here’s a message to people pleasers like me.
I can relate to Jeremiah.
He writes, “Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’
Then I said, ‘Ah, LORD GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’
But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD’” (Jer. 1:4-8 ESV).
I recently watched “The Greatest Showman” for a school assignment. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, it’s a musical encouraging viewers to be themselves. One of the songs in the movie is called “This is me.” It strives to celebrate the differences between human beings. In other words, the song shouts, “Be yourself!”
Today, I’m writing about identity. But I’m doing so from a biblical perspective.
In my home, there’s a quote on the wall. It reads, “In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.” It’s a cute cliché, but I forget it’s there. Actually, I forget the words. I don’t know about you, but I struggle to be comfortable in my own skin.
Spiritual warfare is very real.
Jesus says, “‘The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life’” (John 10:10 NLT).
God is chasing us down with a heart full of love. Satan is chasing us down with total hatred.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12 NLT).
We like to think of God as someone who blesses us. And while it’s true that God prefers to bless us, He is fully capable of cursing us, too.
Take the fall of man, for example. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent, Satan, tempted the couple into sin. Then, God cursed all of humanity.
To Eve, God said, “‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you’” (Gen. 3:16 NKJV).