How to Esteem God and Not Man

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.

One thought on “How to Esteem God and Not Man”

  1. An interesting example of someone who was “oddly different” but not in a Christ-centered way is found in the story of the man who prophesied the woe of Jerusalem. Josephus records the story as follows:

    An incident more alarming still had occurred four years before the war at a time of exceptional peace and prosperity for the City. One Jeshua son of Ananias, a very ordinary yokel, came to the feast at which every Jew is expected to set up a tabernacle for God. As he stood in the Temple he suddenly began to shout:

    ‘A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Sanctuary, a voice against the bridegrooms and brides, a voice against the whole people.’

    Day and night he uttered this cry as he went through all the streets.

    Some of the more prominent citizens, very annoyed at these ominous words, laid hold of the fellow and beat him savagely. Without saying a word in his own defence or for the private information of his persecutors, he persisted in shouting the same warning as before.

    The Jewish authorities, rightly concluding that some supernatural force was responsible for the man’s behaviour, took him before the Roman procurator. There, though scourged till his flesh hung in ribbons, he neither begged for mercy nor shed a tear, but lowering his voice to the most mournful of tones answered every blow with ‘Woe to Jerusalem!’

    When Albinus — for that was the procurator’s name — demanded to know who he was, where he came from and why he uttered such cries, he made no reply whatever to the questions but endlessly repeated his lament over the City, till Albinus decided he was a madman and released him.

    All the time till the war broke out he never approached another citizen or was seen in conversation, but daily as if he had learnt a prayer by heart he recited his lament: ‘Woe to Jerusalem!’

    Those who daily cursed him he never cursed; those who gave him food he never thanked: his only response to anyone was that dismal foreboding. His voice was heard most of all at the feasts.

    For seven years and five months he went on ceaselessly, his voice as strong as ever and his vigour unabated, till during the siege after seeing the fulfilment of his foreboding he was silenced. He was going round on the wall uttering his piercing cry: ‘Woe again to the City, the people, and the Sanctuary!’ and as he added a last word: ‘Woe to me also!’ a stone shot from an engine struck him, killing him instantly. Thus he uttered those same forebodings to the very end.

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