On Impressing Others

I cannot believe in the spirituality of any Christian man who keeps an eye open for the approval of others, whoever they may be.  The man after God’s own heart must be dead to the opinion of his friends as well as his enemies.  He must be as willing to cross important persons as obscure ones.  He must be ready to rebuke his superior as quickly as those who may be beneath him on the ecclesiastical ladder.  To reprove one man in order to gain the favor of another is no evidence of moral courage.  It is done in the world all the time.   A.W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect, 141.

Although it may not seem like it, everytime I post something, I apply it to myself.  Am I attaining that?  Am I not?  The reason I say ‘althought it may not seem like it’ is because often I find that I’m doing pretty doggone good… and that’s considered prideful by the Pharisee set.  You see, if you are doing a good work or remaining faithful to the call, you aren’t allowed to speak of it – you’re supposed to let OTHERS do that for you.  Praise you.  Tell you that you do a good job.  To say you yourself are fulfilling a commandment is boastful.  This is a modern-day misconception of things, btw.  How many times did the OT father say ‘Oh, Lord, you have searched me and found me worthy’, or ‘I have kept your Word’… even Paul said (of himself), ‘I have run the race and fought the good fight.’  Does that make them boastful?  God forbid, or there would be no honesty found in man.

So do I apply this Tozer to myself – do I cross important persons as well as the obscure?  Do I rebuke those higher on the ecclesiastical ladder?  Do I seek the approval of others?  Do I do things in order to get the favor of man?  If I were to answer honestly, I don’t seek approval or favor, and my blog attests to this.  And I’ve been known to rebuke and reprove pastors – including the one shepherding me right now.  (And the occasional pastor’s wife, which is why none of them subscribe anymore. *wink!*)   In searching my motives, I find that I’m not out to impress a darn soul – it’s about Truth and right living and sound doctrine.  Is it boastful to say as much?  If honesty is boastful, then we’re all in trouble.

Let’s address the Pharisee set for a moment, though… the misconception that stating honestly what you do attain as pride.  The idea that OTHERS should do the praising of your deeds… remember the parable Jesus told about the pharisee who had someone go out in front of him and sound a trumpet when he was about to do something ‘good’ so that people would look up and see the deed?  Note that it wasn’t HE who blew the trumpet – it was one of his cohorts.  If I recall correctly, Jesus didn’t think too favorably about the whole thing.  Seeking the praise of man, and even the trumpet-blower – seeking the approval of the big-wig Pharisee, wasn’t he?

…must be dead to the opinion of his friends as well as his enemies….

I find it interesting to watch groups of friends.  What they often call ‘encouragement’ is really vain praise.  Ouch, but it’s true.  You want to impress your friends, so you join in on the attack or argument.  You go, girl!   You think someone will find you ‘holier’ if you go to the sites he/she goes to… its about how YOU look and not Truth.  I’m going no further, or my bottled-up rant might pop.  But I will close with this:

Fear of the opinion of the group tends to regiment the members of denominations and chruches and force them into a cookie cutter uniformityThe desire to stand well within our own circle of religious friends destroys originality and makes imitators of us.  … [the groups] have their approved experiences, their religious accents, even their accepted religious tones; these become standard for the group and are to the local fellowship what circumcision was to Israel, a ceremonial token of acceptance into the clan  The great fault in all this is that it shifts the life motivation from within to without, from God to fellowman.  A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men, 118

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