For most of us, what other people think factors into many of the decisions we make. The approval of friends and family has a bearing on our actions and choices. The Christmas story depicts the struggle of a man and a woman who have to choose between what God will think of them and what people will think of them. Mary has agreed to God’s plan for a virgin pregnancy despite the potential consequences of losing her fiance, her reputation and possibly her life. Now Joseph must decide how he will respond to Mary’s news. Initially, he plans to end the engagement quietly and separate himself from the potential fire storm of inuendo, embarassment and public disgrace. But after an angel appears to him in a dream, he makes the more difficult choice—to do it God’s way with faith and little else to go on. God doesn’t give them a life plan or promise them happiness, success or that their path will be easy. He calls them to obedience and asks them to trust the outcome to Him. He gives peace.
Phil 4:7; Matt 1:18-21, 24; Gal 1:10; Lk 6:22; Ps 25:4-5
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7) When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. (Matt 1:24)
Pleasing God often means disappointing people. It’s a powerful truth. If you want to obey God, many times people will not agree or understand or get it. If you are not ready to be criticized for your obedience to God, you are not ready to be used by God. When God calls you to something (most of the time) there will be people who complain, criticize, discourage and maybe even mock you. Making a difference in the world, making a difference for Jesus Christ will involve pain. If you want to be free of criticism, do nothing, stand for nothing, have nothing! Everything significant will have elements of resistance. Obedience means total commitment to honor God no matter the consequences. Keep in mind that extraordinary acts of God often start with ordinary acts of obedience. You may not understand why, how or what, and you don’t have to. Your obedience will set in motion God’s plan. Joseph and Mary’s simple acts of obedience brought the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation—the greatest event in human history. He is born! Salvation came and God’s plan was revealed.
How much are your decisions influenced by what others think? When have you made a God inspired decision that went against what friends and family advised or expected? Did you have peace? When have you done the popular thing, rather than follow God’s leading? Did you have peace? Are you ever concerned about what people think about your Christian beliefs? Have you ever been mistreated because of your faith? If God is calling you to do something that people won’t “get”, how easy or difficult is obedience? Describe what God’s peace means to you?
With each decision you face, think about what God will think of you rather than what people may think. Be prepared to face opposition as you follow God’s plan. Consider it joy when you are criticized for doing God’s will; it affirms that you are on the right path.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to this world so that I can have a relationship with you. Give me strength and determination to obey your word and to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I want to see your plan in motion in my life and in my church. Bless the work of your servants and fill your children with power to do your will. In Jesus Name I Pray, amen.