I am a non-confrontational, diplomatic, peacemaking people-pleaser who places far too much value on what other people think of me. Can I get a witness? The thing is, this deep concern over what others think of me is an idol. It is something that I’ve concluded, in my heart, I must have in order for my life to be meaningful, valuable, secure, exciting, or free.1

Here’s how Jesus handled some folks with a similar idolatry issue:

When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”

“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied.  “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”

They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”

And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:23-27

How easy it is to just say “I don’t know;” to refuse to state a position, especially when it is not professionally, socially, or politically expedient. It has, unfortunately been my go-to phrase more often than I care to admit. But the consequences of “I don’t know” are dire. Jesus may just say, “This conversation is over!” like he did to the priests and elders, and I can’t live with that.

SO…

I stood for my convictions this week. It should have been easy, but I found myself, like the leading priests and elders in Matthew, weighing the consequences based upon what others might think of me, instead of simply resting in truth. I knew what to do the moment the conflict arose, but I waited and weighed mulled for almost a full week before finally leaving my “I don’t know” at the altar and giving voice to my Holy Spirit-soaked conscience.

Would you like to hear what else Jesus said to a group of folks who disapproved of his teaching? He said, “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.” (John 5:41-42). Wow! Now THAT’s the kind of idol-smashing attitude I’m after.

1. This is the definition of “idol” given by Tullian Tchividjian in his book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything
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7 thoughts on “Leaving “I don’t know” at the Altar

    1. I know about being a work in progress. I preach the Gospel to myself daily – reminding myself that I don’t have to be somebody because Jesus is already somebody, and I can find all my joy, contentment, and peace in him alone.

  1. This was DEEP! Idol -smashing attitude. I’m all for that too!

    My friend, I know your struggle of being a people pleaser and I must say that it deprived you of the peace and joy you seek. Reasoning robs us. If what we say doesn’t align with the Word of God and if your spirit doesn’t sit well with you, then I ask that you fervently pray about situations until you are at peace. Walk in faith and be steadfast in your courage asking God to keep you strong in him so you will not sway in your decision making. I know it’s easier said than done but the more you stick to your convictions of what’s right, it will get a bit easier each time though some days may seem tricky because it may be an issue with a family member. That’s just an example I’m giving because I know it can become uncomfortable if you have to rebuke something said though its done in a godly way. I say this because I have had to speak TRUTH to my parents and I had the Living Word to back me up. Ugh! Those are my parents! How could I do that?!! You know what, I prayed about it before I opened my mouth and God was with me. They received what I said because it was out of love and it was truth they needed to hear.

    Circumstances may not always give you time to pray and meditate on, but if the conviction of the Holy Spirit is on you and you know it to be true, simply ask God to be with you and help you to speak in love and confidence. You know that He will not lead you astray!

    God bless you. I hope my sharing has helped a little bit. I will say a prayer for you and I encourage you to be bold and to trust the Lord in it all. You can do it!

    Rest in the Lord and lean not to your own understanding. Know that you will overcome because you are a conqueror in the name of Jesus. 🙂

    1. Wow! Thanks for that amazingly edifying dose of encouragement! Not only am I not that bold, I am also a sufferer from the common malady of “thinking of what to say when it’s too late to appropriately say it.” You should hear how eloquently I explain my position, or illustrate a point, or boldly argue my viewpoint, as I stand in front of the bathroom mirror long after the dinner party has concluded. It seems I may be in a season of voice finding, or more accurately, finding the voice of God within me. Thanks for spurring me on!

      1. Anytime my sister in the Lord! Ask the Lord and you shall receive! You will find your voice! Just go forth and God will speak through you! Trust and obey!! HALLELUJAH…….. Thank you Jesus in advance because I know you can do great things for my friend as long as she trust and believe you can make what seems impossible possible!

  2. Wow. Exactly the encouragement I needed! I also struggle with people-pleasing and caring too much what others think of me. I hadn’t named it an “idol,” but you are exactly right. I’ve been reading a book called “Grace for the Good Girl,” and it has been speaking to my heart about this very issue.

    1. I KNOW we are not alone in this. Especially us “good girls.” The more I recognize the beauty of Jesus and the “all-ness” of him, the less I matter, and the easier it is to let go of this idol.

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