Why do we care so much about what others think? It’s one thing to take a defiant, rebellious attitude and say “I don’t care what people think” when you know you are doing something wrong and others are pointing it out to you. In those situations we would do well to heed their wise instruction for when we defy what is right, other people may well be on mission from God to help bring us back to what is true and what is good and what is right. Godly people should hold us accountable. We also must do our best to maintain a good reputation among believers and non-believers alike so that we bring honor to God rather than dishonor. To that extent we should care about what others think. But that’s not what we’re talking about.
John 12:43 says, “For they loved the approval and the praise and the glory that come from men [instead of and] more than the glory that comes from God. [They valued their credit with men more than their credit with God.] (AMP) This is referring to people who saw Jesus and who heard Him teach. It says they believed in Him but they did not admit it and did not follow Him because they were afraid they would lose the approval of the Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders. This might have caused them to be looked down upon, to be cast out of their fellowship, etc. and they just weren’t willing to take that chance. They cared more about the approval of men than the approval of God.
In what ways do you care too much about what other people think? Who do you think of as your “audience”? I know in my own life there has been an all-too-consistent pattern where I’ve done and said things primarily for the approval of other people. I’ve allowed myself to worry and fret and stress over what others think about me. I’ve longed for and sought after the praise and approval of others. When I’m being praised and it’s obvious that people like me and think well of me, I lift my head a little higher and start to feel pretty good about myself. On the other hand, when I’m not receiving recognition, approval, respect, praise, etc, I can quickly begin to feel sad and even depressed. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s dangerous. And it’s not pleasing to God.
We must be aware that in the end we will only give an account to One. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. This requires that in everything we do and say, we seek first and foremost the approval of God. In fact, very often it will be impossible to please both God and man. The good news is this is a much more peaceful way to live anyway. Obey God, keep His commandments and follow Him. Make godly decisions and act in a godly way. Then, whatever people think will be of little consequence because you will know that you have done your best, and you have done it solely for your Audience of One.