The praises of Men
“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” NIV
The Bible makes no secret about the fact that many did not believe in the message of Jesus. They heard the word He preached and marvelled at His wisdom. They saw all the incredible miracles – the dead raised to life, the lame walk, the blind receive sight, the lepers healed, the oppressed set free. And yet, they could not bring themselves to accept that this Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah that the Scriptures spoke about. The Prophet Isaiah foretold this – many would not believe because their eyes were blinded and their hearts were deadened.
How sad Jesus must have felt that so many of these whom He would soon give His life for could not bring themselves to believe and be saved.
But there was another group of people which must have saddened Him more – those who believed in Him yet were not willing to confess Him openly because they valued their standing in society, the opinion of their friends, the esteem of men. The Bible says simply that they “loved praise from men more than praise from God.” I like the way the MESSAGE translates this verse; it says, “When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.”
You know, sooner or later, every believer has to take a stand – what we believe about Jesus or what the world thinks about Him, the way of the Lord or the way of the world, God’s truth or the world’s wisdom.
Too many times we try to skate around it; we turn and weave around issues hoping that somehow we can enjoy the best of both worlds, that somehow we can obtain both favour from God and favour from men. We hide our faith, we keep silent about what we know to be wrong in the eyes of God, we bend our knees to what our heart denies. In the end, if we are not careful, we become numbered with this group that “loved praise from men more than praise from God,” this group that believed in Jesus but was not willing to take a stand for Jesus.
Accepting Jesus as Lord can never be a secret pact, a quiet understanding, a private commitment. A silent Christian is a paradox! To come to Christ in saving faith is to acknowledge before all men that He alone is Lord, that His message is true, that we are eternally grateful for His gift of salvation. We become like that light that is set upon a hill and cannot be hidden, cannot be contained. Others may ridicule us or slander us because of it, but we remain delighted and honoured to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, our Lord! For us there can be no greater honour than to be identified as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, disdained by the world but acknowledged by God.
It’s the praises of men or the applause of heaven.
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).