Does It Matter What Others Think?
by John Piper
For example, Jesus warned us: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26). And his own enemies saw in him an indifference to what others thought: “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men but truly teach the way of God” (Mark 12:14). Paul said that if he tried to please men he would no longer be a servant of Christ: “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). “As we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
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On the other hand, Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.” And Paul was vigilant that he not be discredited in his handling of money for the poor: “[We are] taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). It mattered what men thought. He taught the Roman church, “Now we who are strong ought . . . not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Romans 15:1-2). And he taught that one of the qualifications for elders is that they must be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2), including among unbelievers: “He must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7).
Similarly Peter charged us to care about what outsiders thought: “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12)…
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