The Praise of Men Jn.12-43 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The chief rulers loved the praise of men more than the praise of God and so, they didn’t confess Jesus. Many Christians won’t confess Jesus today, for the same reason. Now, if I were to ask you if you love the praise of men more than the praise of God, you would answer, “No.” We know that loving the praise of men more than the praise of God is wrong. Nevertheless, many of us do love the praise of men and we are just not aware of it. So, we are going to examine how the praise of men manifests itself in our lives so that we can be aware of it and stop it.
We know that we are overly concerned about the praise of men when we:
Fear men rather than God – the fear of man brength a snare [Prov 29:25]. These rulers were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. So, though they believed in Jesus, they would not open their mouths about him. They were more afraid of the Pharisees than they were of the Lord. If you will be honest with yourself and with the Lord, you know whether you fear man more than God. And if you are like these chief rulers, you have been ensnared by your fear of man. The way to overcome this is to fear and trust the Lord. Heb 13:6 says, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We must get over our fear of man.
Seek men’s favor more than God’s favor – it is beneficial to be in favor with men. Lk 2:52 says that Jesus initially was. Favor with men gives you openings and opportunities to preach the gospel. If you are a knucklehead around men, they aren’t inclined to give you the time of day, much less the time to show them the gospel out of the Bible. But, some of us spend all our time gaining and maintaining favor with men. And then we never get around to preaching the gospel. The reason is simple; we don’t want to lose their favor. But remember that the whole reason for gaining favor is to gain the opening. So, take the opening when you get it. We must remember that men are fickle. Many hate the gospel and they hate the Lord. So, once they know that you are a Christian who is unafraid to preach the gospel, some men are going to hate you, too [Jn 15:19]. It is vain to try to maintain the favor of someone who hates your Saviour and who hates the gospel that saved you.
Withhold unpalatable truth from those who need it – Have you ever held back on proclaiming the gospel or telling someone you are a Christian because you thought they wouldn’t like to hear it? Well, you’re probably right that they don’t want to hear it because 1 Cor 1:18 says that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. But they must hear it to believe in Jesus and be saved [Eph 1:13]. Now, if you withhold the gospel from someone because it is unpalatable, how are they ever going to hear it? They must have a preacher [Rom 10:14]. And as a young friend of mine used to say, when we played tag, “You it.” You cannot withhold the truth from those who need it. Just think. Their soul is worth multiple times more than their praise. Risk it.
Gauge the opinion of others before “speaking our mind” – many of us tend to figure out the person we’re talking to before speaking openly about what we believe. In this regard, we are a lot like politicians whom we despise. We check the wind before we say anything lest we should offend. Don’t you find people refreshing who aren’t afraid to say what they believe? They just say it and let you worry about what to do with it. Well, then, quit trying to figure out what to say and how to say it. If you believe in Jesus say so. And if you want them to be saved tell them how. Let them worry about what to do with it. It’s not your problem. If people don’t want to hear the truth, you could serve it on a silver platter and they would still reject it. And if people want the truth, then they need a preacher who can preach it plainly; they don’t need not a politician.
Fret more over how we look to man than to God – when you review conversations with people, after the fact, do you find yourself saying, “I should have said this and I shouldn’t have said that?” Do you know what you are doing? You are fretting over how you looked to them. You must stop that. Instead, what you should do is pray while you are conversing and ask the Lord to give you the right words to say at the right time, without fear. The only person you need to be concerned with “impressing” is God. Look what Jesus said in Jn 14:10. He wasn’t concerned about choosing the right words for his audience. He was only concerned with speaking the words that his Father had given him. And believe me, it is a relief to stop rehashing conversations after you have them. When you have said what you are supposed to say, there’s nothing to rehash.
Conclusion: more of us love the praise of men than we realize. If we will follow these simple reproofs and instructions, we can become more concerned with the praise of God and become much better witnesses for the Lord.