“He said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
Men esteem appearances, not reality. When you walk down the street, people don’t know your heart, all they know is what they see. Your clothes and manner of walking are observed and immediate judgments are made. Judgments continue when they hear your voice, listen to your opinions, and see what you own.
Respectability is highly valued in our society. We define new groups of people as “normal” or “abnormal” based on how much like us they are. Unfortunately, we gauge people’s spiritual health the same way.
But God is disgusted by what man esteems. So, what is our response, do everything man hates? Go out of our way to be obnoxiously different?
No, because those who purposely go against what men esteem to challenge men are just as much living their lives according to what man esteems!
This is the irony of rebellion. People in rebellion are paying more attention to social norms than most who live by those social norms!
Jesus is not telling people to purposely only do things that annoy people. He’s calling us to live in God’s presence, not man’s. In the end, righteousness will be esteemed by many. When Jesus grew Luke says He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
The point is not to offend men by being oddly different, but rather to follow God and His commands and the righteous example of Christ in this sin-filled world, which will often be oddly different, but this is the result, not the means. When this brings you in conflict with man’s desires, always go with God. This does not mean to be a jerk so everyone hates you.
It’s a fine line, but ultimately has to do with your focus. We are Christ-centered, not man-centered. We pay attention to our hearts, not just our actions. We judge righteous judgment and understand the passing shadow of human praise.