The one true God created me for life with Himself forever, for the sake of His own divine love. So has He also given Himself for me, and redeemed me for Himself with His own lifeblood, so that I may be His and live with Him in His Kingdom in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. He has given me His Name and poured out His Holy Spirit generously upon me. He is my strength and my song, because He has become my salvation. He is my righteousness and holiness. Neither sin, nor death, nor the power of the devil can harm me any longer, for the Lord my God will never leave me nor forsake me. As God Himself is for me, I may a host defy!
I know all of this. I confess it to be true. I teach it and preach it to other with sincere and absolute conviction. To whatever extent I know my own heart and mind, I do believe all of this, and I trust it; thanks be to God, and Christ be praised, that He has called me by His Gospel, enlightened me with the gifts of His Spirit, sanctified and kept me in the one true faith.
So why is it that I care so much about what anyone else thinks of me? Why am I flattered and delighted by the praises of people? And why am I so devestated by anything less?
Why does it hurt so much to be criticized or ridiculed? Why does it hurt that much worse to be dismissed or ignored altogether? What is this hunger in me for the attention and approval of people, when the love and salvation of the true and only God are given to me freely by His grace? I know better than to seek the praises of men, and yet precisely that still seems to be what my heart it bent upon. And I am more easily troubled by the displeasure or disinterest of men than by the holy and righteous Law of God. I do not fear, love and trust in Him above all things, as I should, but I fear, love and trust in the attitudes and actions of men.
I know that the problem is rooted in my sinfulness, and that the only remedy is the forgiveness of my sins. What never ceases to amaze me, though, is how knowing the truth of the matter does not enable me to correct my thinking or feeling. All the logic in the world, and even good theological knowledge, does not prevent me from craving human accolades or from getting my feelings hurt when people disregard me. There are days when I thoroughly bemoan this travesty of my sinful heart.
It should not bother me that I'm not part of the in crowd; that I am not taken seriously; that I am overlooked or deliberately passed over by the "powers that be" in this world. It should not bother me, even though it does. My true standing before God, which is all that finally matters, has already been determined and established for me in Christ Jesus, and there simply is no higher honor than that. It is probably for the best that I don't possess the honors of this world, since I am far too easily inclined to idolatry over them. Already my covetous desire for such recognition is idolatrous. Thus, I am called to repentance and reminded how much I need the Gospel every day. There is no other help nor hope, nor any other life worth living, than that which is freely given by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. I believe; help Thou my unbelief!