I’m going back home to see my relatives. When I go back home, I can be stressed and anxious about making sure I see as many family members and friends as I can. I want to spend time with each them as I love being with my family and friends! But sometimes I find myself worrying and thinking way too much about how I’m balancing my time. I want to make sure that everyone is “ok” with how often I’m seeing them. Sometimes I think, “I don’t want anyone to be upset. How can I make everyone happy?” When my mind is spinning on these types of thoughts, I try to remember Christ.
True brother and friend
Jesus Christ precedes my friendships and even my family relationships. He existed well before I, my relatives, or friends were born. In fact, through Him the entire universe was created. This includes all familial and friend relationships. God defines relationships. He is my true Father and Jesus is my true brother (Mark 12:50; Hebrews 2:11). Jesus is also my true friend. Jesus Christ sustains all earthly relationships. (I think I sustain them, but He does!) As Lord, Christ rules over them as well. He is sovereign over all my relationships (Colossians 1).
I am tempted to seek others’ approval — to people please. By some this may be interpreted as being nice or loving but when I really think about it, I realize that I’m looking for something from them – their approval. I want them to like me. In this I’m actually worshiping others’ opinions of me rather than God. I’m pleasing man over pleasing God and this is sin (Galatians 1:10; John 12:43; Ephesians 6:6). I am called to love people, not to please them. And actually, deep down I do want to love them, not just get something from them. Also, I was not intended to fear man, but to fear God. I justly deserve God’s wrath for these sins. But…
The gift of total acceptance
Jesus, my Savior, lived the perfect life I could never live. He was looked down upon and rejected (Isaiah 53). He could have sought to please the Pharisees and the Roman officials, but instead He submitted to His Father’s will on my behalf. Jesus Christ willingly suffered a cruel, gruesome death on the cross for my fear of man and my people pleasing. He took God’s wrath intended for me upon Himself. Jesus sought to please the Father (not man), and as a result I have been declared not guilty and I am free. I’m free not only from the penalty of my people pleasing but from the rule of sin over me. I no longer have to “please others” as I know I am totally accepted by God the Father. What freedom! I have Christ’s righteousness and can fully rest in that (2 Corinthians 5:21). What peace! I can be a light to others and hence glorify God. I’ve received immense mercy and grace, and therefore I can be gracious even if family or friends would happen to be upset with my actions.
Propelled to love more
How can I live by faith? When I go to my relatives, I can fix my mind on the truths of the Gospel. Even though I am sinful and flawed, I know that I am totally accepted and loved by God because of Christ’s work on the cross for me! Meditating on these Gospel truths and remembering my new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) helps turn my eyes from others’ approval to God’s already 100% approval of me through the person of Christ. I can look to God for wisdom to know who to visit when. I have the gift of the Holy Spirit within me that will guide me, even if it be moment by moment. Only God knows what they truly need. I do not have to fear disappointing people because I know that God is sovereign over their lives as well as mine. He can even use disappointment for His redemptive purposes, in their lives as well as mine. As I remember His immense love for me, I will be propelled to love others, not expecting anything in return. I don’t need to worry about controlling others’ feelings. I trust that God will work in this situation. He is sovereign and good.