Something that seems to be characteristic in all of us, at least to some degree, is our need for the praise of other people. Beginning from a young age when as children we see the excitement and receive words of praise for so many little things we do. For some of us, this praise continues and conditions us to seek the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we are applauded by other people. In some cases, we may not receive it and we yearn for it. It’s this same desire for human praise that causes us to fear disapproval, especially when we’re standing out from the crowd.
As Christians, we often have the challenge of defending our faith or standing up for Biblical values we know to be true. This has become even more difficult these days when those holding views in opposition to ours are protected under the guise of “political correctedness”. It’s during these times that we need to remind ourselves that the only judgement that matters to us is the eternal judgement of God. If we are speaking the “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and being bold about our faith when given the opportunity, we may not receive human praises, but we will be receiving God’s praise. (John 12:43)
There’s a story in the Bible about Peter, a friend and disciple of Jesus that seemed to have his back more than anyone throughout his ministry, and his denial of Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75) Whenever I read it, it makes me feel sad for Peter because he clearly regrets it. It also shines a light on my own life and situations I’ve been in where my words or deeds were a denial of the fact that I know Jesus – personally.
It’s interesting to see how his denials grow stronger as the public allegations of his relationship with Jesus become more costly.
Initially he’s confronted by just one girl, face to face. There were no doubt people around, and Peter knew they might be listening to the exchange. His eyes probably darted around to see who was paying attention. His answer might have been loud enough for anyone paying attention to hear, but not loud enough to attract any more attention. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said.
Not long after, he was confronted by another girl. But she didn’t speak just to Peter. She pronounced his suspected relationship with Jesus to all that were around. Now things were heating up and I can picture heads turning to look at Peter. I can almost hear the gasps and whispering. I can almost see the pointing. Could it be true? And this time Peter comes right out and lies, even with an oath. “I don’t even know the man.” Ouch!
Finally, a group of bystanders approach Peter and declare that he must be one of Jesus’ followers. No more hiding it. It looks like everyone knows now. So Peter might as well just confess, right? Nope. Instead he chooses to lie his strongest lie yet. “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!”
At that moment the rooster crows and Peter becomes painfully aware of what he has done. (Jesus had warned him he would deny him, and Peter had vehemently insisted that would never happen.). Then Peter went away “weeping bitterly”.
Jesus said that if we’re embarrassed by him, he’ll be embarrassed by us when he returns. Seems kind of harsh, but not when you take into consideration all that he’s done for us. He certainly deserves our undying loyalty, even in the face of human judgement.
“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 MSG)
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? … Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. (Romans 8:31,34 MSG)
But if you refuse to serve the Lord , then choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord .” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)