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
Eternal and Righteous God,
Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to see my faults and shortcomings. Have mercy on me! I'm as guilty as the legalist Jewish leaders of the early church. I call myself a Christian in my heart, but am afraid to admit it in front of people. I too, love the praise of man more than praise from You. The truth is, I rarely think of pleasing You.
Frightened of losing my prestigious place in the community, I temporarily hide my faith in the closet where I can conveniently access it when I need it during a crisis. People might think I'm a fool, ignoring and criticizing me, if I admit I'm Your follower, so I conceal it. I want to be liked and respected by everyone. A people pleaser, I'm too scared of ridicule to stand out and publicly acknowledge the great distance You went and the exorbitant price You paid to save me. Forgive me, O God for I have sinned against You.
I refuse to speak up, terrorized by the thought that I won't communicate clearly and will look stupid before my family and friends. I fear being rejected by them more than I fear eternal separation from You. I admit that I'm a coward and plead with You to pardon me for being more concerned with what others will think of me than about disobeying, dishonoring, and disrespecting You.
O Lord, will you kindly change my timid heart? Fill me with fresh power to boldly proclaim the Way, the Truth and the Life right where You've placed me even if it means I'll offend someone. You're not interested in my popularity; You're concerned about rescuing dead and decomposing lives buried beneath the rubble of sin and shame. Whenever I open my mouth to speak, please give me the right words to confidently communicate the message of Your amazing love. O Lord, help me to get my eyes off myself and love others enough to risk my life and reputation to save them for the glory of Your name. Amen.
Are you like me, afraid to share your faith for fear of rejection and ridicule from family and friends? If so, Jesus has some strong words for us: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 NLT
Jesus stood in stark contrast to this Pharisaic concern. He did not show favoritism; instead he reached out to male and female, rich and poor, and all races and ages. His teaching was not done by first taking a poll of what was popular; instead, he spoke truth that was often unpopular but could penetrate the heart. - Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small