I have committed to reading the gospels over the next four months; basically a gospel a month it's not an exact science. I know I will finish each gospel before the month is out, but each I wanted to leave myself some cushion at the end of each month to allow for my procrastination, and for other things that might disrupt my reading plan.
The reason why I embarked on this journey was to just take time and dwell *in* Jesus, I do believe he is with me on this reading adventure, and I didn't want anything else to get in the way. I am easily distracted and know that the less I am reading, the more it is possible that I will accomplish this (I am also reading Eugene Peterson's book, "A Memoir: The Pastor").
I started with the gospel of John; I know it's a little out of order, but it's where I started. Sometimes I do things that don't make sense... Any ways, I have been hit in the face several times in my reading of John's gospel, but this one verse hit me so hard it felt like I broke my nose.
Here it is...
"For they loved praise from men more than praise from God" - John 12:43
I am not going to lie. More times than not, I seek and desire approval from men more than I do God. I think if all of us were to be honest, we would agree that this would be true to some extent (Except for you Pharisees who have this spirituallity stuff all figured out... I joke, I joke. Well kind of...).
To be frank. I know I shouldn't seek the praise of men more than I do praise from God. You know what though? Sometimes, immediate praise of men feel better than praise from God. Maybe it's because of daddy issues I might have or maybe it's because of some narcissim that I struggle through, I don't know forsure. What I do know is that there are times when I want people to like me and I want them to tell me how good I am.
Think about it. Search your heart.
I am and there are times I find things that are ugly, dark, and messed up. I am not proud of this, infact I am a bit disgusted with it. Much like the religious rulers that John made that comment about; I do believe in Jesus, but fear grips my heart and I get apprehensive that I could get "thrown out of the synagogue" so to speak (Insert whatever your afraid of losing or what your sinful desires grave and lust after).
When I lose my head and my focus on what really matters, my courage to stand up for truth and to love like Jesus quavers a bit.
I think that is why Hebrews 12:1-3 was written. The Father knows that we are weak and need to be reminded that there is a very good chance all of us will get tired and lose heart.
I really don't have any magic words or a silver bullet to bestow about this subject other than to day don't give up. Don't quit! Keep moving forward, and have laser focused eyes on Jesus. Know that God's grace and praise is more valuable and significant and last forever. Man's praise while meaningful is fickle and near-sighted.
Romans 8:15 is a great reminder of our need to only seek God's praise, because of our relationship with Him...
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”