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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Afraid of What People Think About Me

Craig Groeschel - Afraid of What People Think About Me

Craig Groeschel - Afraid of What People Think About Me
Craig Groeschel - Afraid of What People Think About Me
TOPICS: Fear Not, Christmas, Opinions

All right so sometimes in church it's just good to get real, right? How many of you agree? So what I wanna do today is with your permission, I'm gonna get kind of real. Do you think you can handle a confession? I'm just gonna tell you real straight. And it's not a joke. And this isn't like a setup, but I am a recovering people pleaser. Like big time. Can any of you relate? Online? You can type it in. I'm a recovering people pleaser. Some of you don't even type in the word recovering because like you're a people pleaser right now. Because I don't know about you, but man, I, there's so much pressure to fit in. Like growing up I just remember I wanted to wear the right clothes, wear the right shoes, say the right things, get invited to the right parties. And by parties, I mean like, you know, at McDonald's where they had the big clown because I was a kid and all those kind of things. And I never felt like I did.

One of the problems we had back when I was growing up, I grew up in the era, some of you would remember this. And the funny thing is like kind of back again, but when I was a kid, Izods and Polos were really popular. Then if you think they're popular now, they weren't for a long time, but when I was a kid they were, and we could not afford those. My dad worked at a store where a clothing store and they had a knockoff Polo. It was not a Polo, but it was called Knight to the round table. And there's a knight that was that like a had a flag that looked like a polo player.

So I wore like fake Polo, that's worse than wearing non-Polo. It was fake Polo. So I tried to fit in that it worked and I wanted Izods 'cause Izods were so cool. So my mom felt the pressure and she actually went to a garage sale and found some Izod socks and bought them for like a quarter or whatever, cut the little alligators out and sewed an alligator onto a shirt so I could have an Izod. So I was the guy that came to school with an alligator facing down about to eat something, okay? It just didn't work. And I just remember so hard. I want people to like me. I want people to like me all the way into an adult. And now I'm a pastor of a church that I should be securing Christ. And yet I still want you to like me. And when you don't, it kind of hurts my feelings. I'm afraid of what people think. I'm trying to grow through it. I'm a recovering people pleaser.

So during this Christmas season, we're actually looking at some events around the birth of Christ. And we notice as we study the Christmas story that there are three different times when God sent three angels and three different times the angel said, "fear not or do not be afraid". And today what we're gonna do is we're gonna look at a portion of the Christmas story and the angel's message, do not be afraid, I believe will help some people overcome the fear of what other people think about you.

Now, why does this matter so much? And I promise you it does. Because obsessing about what people think about you is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you. Let me say it again. The moment you obsess about what they think, it takes you away from thinking about what God thinks. And so if you're like me, and you find yourself worrying a little bit more, am I gonna live up to their expectations, or are my parents gonna be proud? Am I gonna fit in with them? It's what I post gonna be the right thing. Am I gonna develop the right brand or whatever it is? If you find yourself worrying about living up to expectations, I believe God's word is going to speak to you because all of us feel the pressure to say the right things, drive the right car, post the right image. And I'm praying that God's word would do a deep work in your heart today.

Father, bring your word to life. Holy Spirit, do surgery on our hearts that we could know you're speaking to us. God, set us free from living for the applause of people. And God, help us live for your heart, your will, your plan, and your purpose. We pray this in Jesus' name and everybody said amen.

Type it in the comments section online amen if you're with us today. We're gonna look in Matthew chapter 1 today at a guy named Joseph. And Joseph had a very big decision to make. His decision was gonna be between what was easy and what was right. Have you ever noticed how what's right is rarely what's easy, right? Like it's right not to gossip, but it's so much more fun to do it. You wanna be in the know, right? It's right to resist the temptation, but it's easy to eat it, buy it, squeeze it, pop it, whatever you do to it. It's so much easier to give in, right? And so here we have Joseph and he was engaged to be married to a young girl named Mary And if you don't know during this time in culture, engagement is a little bit different than today. For one thing, they didn't have the pressure to have the Instagram-worthy engagement where you actually proposed and then you do 45 minutes of photos faking the actual moment. Ha, okay, do it again. Ha, now with the sun behind you. Ha. For 45 minutes I watched someone at a hotel recreate the moment you people please and faker. And I know I'd do the same thing if I got engaged today 'cause that's the way culture works.

If you find yourself like that, it was very, very different in the engagement process back then. Whenever someone would get engaged then, it was actually a binding agreement. The only way to get out of an engagement was actually to die or to divorce. So when we see that they're engaged, it was much more, it was kind of like you're married without just the official marriage. You still couldn't have sex, but you were in a binding agreement. And so Matthew 1:18 kind of gives us the context of the story. And here's what scripture says. "This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came аbout: His mother married was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit". This is a nightmare if you're Joseph. You are saving yourself for marriage. You're in love with the virgin girl. You are engaged and kind like married in our culture today. He didn't have sex with her. And she comes in and says, guess what? I'm pregnant. Immediately. What he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt is that's not his baby.

What do you think he's thinking? You are pregnant. You broke my heart. Our relationship's over. Who did it? I'm gonna kill him. I know Joseph was the father of Jesus in the sense of raising him, I guarantee he thought I'm gonna kill him because that's what you typically think. And Mary's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don't worry this is actually good news. Like an angel, the Lord appeared to me and spoke to me and said, you found favor with me and you're gonna give birth to the Son of God. It's amazing, an angel did it really, I promise. I dunno where you guys are. That's just funny to me. Like an angel says that he's looking going, what are you, you woman, you're crazy. Don't gimme that. He's like, I don't know. I saw that guy in the muscle shirt down at the well checking you out, right? I mean, the guy's a human. He's not going, oh, okay, great. The Holy Spirit did it. Oh, pray to Lord. Let's thank God right now and take communion together. No, he's not doing that. So she says she's pregnant. And from a human perspective, he's got two options to believe about her.

Right now, one, she is a liar or two, she's crazy. And both are not good foundations upon which to build your marriage, right? I don't have sex with you, you're pregnant, you're telling me an angel did it. You are a big fat liar, liar, pants on fire, or you're a wacko. Oh, the Holy Spirit did this to you. You're crazy. Both options are not good. And so let's just say like he's super Christian, which he's not. He's a regular guy. Let's just say he's super Christian and he does believe her. Okay, so the angel did this to you. What do you think he thinks about next? And the answer is, what are people gonna think about me? Because if I go through with this and marry this woman that got pregnant before we were actually married, I'm gonna be marked for life. I'm the guy that broke God's law. I am in the position of power. I would've like maybe pressured her. No one's gonna believe it anyway if we try to tell them about this Holy Ghost thing, it's gonna be a scandal that follows him through his whole life.

And then if he looks at it from her perspective, Mary, she's gonna be an outcast. She is gonna be rejected and no one's gonna speak to her because in that culture, that type of sin, would put you out of business. He's in the same, in a similar way in business. He's a carpenter. No one's gonna do business with him because their parents won't bless the marriage. And then worse yet, their child is gonna be mocked all day long wherever he goes. So what's going on in his mind? We, we don't know the details, but what we do know is he's out. Someone comes in, I'm dating Amy, she said, I'm pregnant by the Holy Ghost, I'm done. You go figure that one out yourself, right? That's what he's gonna do. He's bailing on the relationship and we see him walking out. Matthew 1:19 says this: "Because Joseph, her husband" and they're calling her the husband 'cause they were engaged. And we talked about that. "Because he was faithful to the law and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace".

So he's a good man. He's trying to get out of this gracefully without making it worse for her. "He had in mind to divorce her quietly". I don't wanna make this worse for her. I'm certainly not going through with this. So I'll just try to get out of this and maybe I can rebuild my life and divorce her quietly and move on with things. If I can just kind of get out of this, then maybe things will be okay. What are people gonna think of me? So he's not going to shame her and he thinks maybe I can start over. Maybe I can save my reputation and save whatever of hers is there. Maybe I can find someone new. Maybe somehow I can still have a life after this. And he's about to learn one of life's most important lessons. And what is that? If you're taking notes, write this down. That pleasing God often means disappointing people. That doing what God wants is often very, very different than doing what people want. In fact, we'll see this in Matthew chapter 1, verse 20 and 21. Scripture says this, "But Joseph, after he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream".

So he's going to divorce her quietly. He's gonna move on and try to rebuild. And an angel appears and says Joseph, son of David, here it is. Let's all say it aloud. The angel says, "Do not be afraid". What does the king James angel say? The king James Angel says, "Fear not". "Don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit". Scripture says, "Then she'll give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins". What do we know? For centuries, all of God's people were waiting on a savior and Joseph thinks maybe this could happen, but what is it going to cost me? What is the problem? And how does this apply to you? Let's revisit an earlier thought and look at a new one. What do we know about the danger of living for the applause of people? And it is this obsessing about what people think about you is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you. But on the other hand, obsessing about what God thinks about you is the quickest way to forget what people think about you, right?

When you start to put God first and live for an audience of one, suddenly pleasing God means more than the applause of men, it's God, I wanna seek you first. I wanna put your kingdom first. Your values first, your will first God. It's not about what they want. It's not about what I want. But God, I want to surrender my will to your purpose. How do we do that? How do we do it when naturally we care about how many likes our posts gets, when naturally it breaks our heart when the person that we like and we follow unfollow us? How dare them do that? They will answer to God. How do we do it when we care so much about people that we work with, people we go to school with? How do we live for God instead of for people? I'll give you a couple quick thoughts today from God's word. I'll set up the first principle by asking again, just for context, how did God use Mary and Joseph? What'd they do? Well, God used Mary. She gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God who gave his life as a ransom. Can you imagine, even though there was that outcome, the grief that Mary and Joseph would endure?

People would not believe them. They would be scorned, they would be shamed. We know they had to run for their lives because ultimately Herod was trying to kill their baby. People are saying, Joseph is not really the father and I did the math, they definitely got pregnant before their wedding date. There's no doubt about it. And Joseph and Mary's life illustrates the principle number one, if you're not ready to be criticized for your obedience to God, you are not ready to be used by God. How do you do God's will? You gotta be ready to take some heat for doing God's will. If you are not ready to face some criticism for your obedience to God, you can never be in the middle of God's will. I like what Paul said in Galatians 1:10. He said, "Obviously I'm not trying to win the approval of people". I'm not doing that. I'm way past that. "But instead I'm trying to win the approval of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant".

Can we stop for a moment? If I'm a recovering people pleaser and if pleasing you is my goal, I can't live faithfully for Jesus. So I want you to hear this. I want you to feel this. If you are trying to impress your dad, if you're trying to do only what your mom want, if you're trying to live for his approval or her approval or their approval, whoever they are, 'cause they all, they're there, they think this, they think that, who's they? I don't know. But they're they. If you're trying to live for the approval of people, you cannot be a servant of Christ. And so where are you holding back? I mean, are you a servant of Jesus? If you are, you know, do you go public with your faith? You know, like take a stand for Jesus at school. You know, like wear a Christian shirt in or pray over your meal even though you know they're gonna make fun of you. Pray over your meal at work or refuse to be a part of some deal that is not God honoring at work, even though it would make you a lot of money. Or you go to the party and you don't drink when you're there. Or you may not go to the party because you just don't want to be around that kind of stuff. Or you don't go to certain movies or watch that kind of show and everybody's like, who you think you are? You're holier now. You're better than. Or you don't listen to certain kind of music even though it's the most popular music.

Because what's in that music isn't good to put in your mind and they'll make fun of you and they'll laugh at you. Or you wait until you are married to share the gift of love making because your body doesn't belong to you, but it belongs to God. And everybody else gonna say, that's so old fashioned. That's so stupid. And you're missing out on the fun and they may not go out with you when you don't put out. And you may lose someone you like 'cause you won't give 'em what they want. If you are not ready to face opposition for your obedience to God, you're not ready to be used by God. And here's what I hope you understand, those who make the biggest difference often endure the greatest pain. Do you wanna go be popular on social media and take the word out? You can get shot at a lot. In fact this is, all these things are kind of minor, but anything in my marriage and ministry with Amy that we did that we felt like God called us through, it was always met with opposition. It started with having a big family. Six kids. You wouldn't believe that people are like, oh, do you know what causes that? Why are you doing that?

Nah, nah. I mean, you know, we have family members like upset going at baby number four. We're not talking to you. Don't you have number five? And they're like mad when God calls children blessing from God. And yet we get criticized for that. And then we home educated back before you had to, you know, like 2020, right? This was way back when it was highly criticized. We felt got called by God for it, never told anybody else they should do it, but man, we got judged for it. They're not gonna be social and they're not gonna be this and they're not gonna be that. We actually didn't want 'em to be what everybody else was 'cause everybody else was doing things that weren't honoring to God. In the church world we experimented with video teaching and everybody said video teaching doesn't work. That's not spiritual. It's funny, it's 'cause whenever I'm teaching everybody's looking at the screen, they're not looking at me. I'm like, look at my eye here, man. They're looking at the screen. But now, I mean we got hammered in the church world for that multi-site when we were one of the first churches that started meeting in more than one location. And you're full of yourself and you're this, that, and the other.

Church online we're the first church to create church online platform. And what's funny is the whole church world was critical of that, critical of that. We offered it for free and those who criticized it the most were the first to use it when they couldn't meet physically in 2020. But a lot of criticism, YouVersion Bible App, you would think giving away the Bible to 700 million people would probably be a good thing. And there's people to this day who say the Bible is a piece of paper, it's not an app. And they criticize that over and over again. One of the most unusual things for me, it took great faith when I tried to start a leadership podcast because I didn't know if anybody would care. Well, people did care was interesting is I probably take more criticism for that from Christians because you're a pastor, you shouldn't talk about leadership. It is I don't know why, but when I look at Jesus, I see a spiritual leader, and I see leadership is spiritual and that's one of the biggest things I get criticized for. And if you're gonna do something special, you gotta be ready to take the heat. If you wanna make a big difference, you gotta be ready to face the critic. If you're not ready to face criticism for your obedience to God, wherever you stand strong, you're not ready to be used by God.

How do we live for God instead of people? That's first thought. Second one is this. We need to remember that extraordinary acts of God often start with ordinary acts of obedience. Just obeying God. The Savior of the world is born when a couple of teenagers say yes to God. And it's so hard to imagine how they could say yes without knowing any of the details. In fact, Mary was told "That a swords gonna pierce her soul over this whole deal". The only details she knew is that it was gonna be horrible. And so often, whenever God is calling us, okay, I'm not gonna live for people, but I'm gonna live for God. I'm gonna date in a way that honors God. I'm gonna manage my finances in a way that honors God. I'm not gonna take that job even though I want that job because that job's not honoring and I don't have another job. I'm gonna trust you God. And I wanna know the details. Just tell me how this is gonna work out. Mary and Joseph had to say yes without knowing the details. So often I think God would say you can't handle the details.

Psalm 119:105 says that "God's word is a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path". If his word is a lamp unto our feet, then his word shows us the next one or two steps. And we wanna say, God, if I'm gonna live for you, I wanna see step number 10. And God says, you can't see step number 10 until you take one and two, then I'll show you three and four and then I'll show you five and six. You wouldn't take five and six if you didn't see my faithfulness in one and two. That's some of the most special things that God will do will start to the smallest moment when you say, this is what man wants, but I'm gonna do what God wants. Is there some area of your life that you're living to please people and not to honor God? It could be in your money that you're literally spending all that you have to buy things that you don't need to impress people you don't even like, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me. And you're not giving the way you could and you're not saving and you're not preparing to be a blessing to people because you're so wrapped up in pleasing the people of this world. Or maybe you're studying something in college or you're in a career just because that's what mom or dad wanted.

When you know God might have something different for you, or maybe you're in a relationship right now and you are compromising sexually to please someone that is not loving and honoring you or God. Some of you, you're hiding your faith, you're a Christian, but nobody at works know it because you think they may not like you if you're a follower of Jesus. And I wanna remind you that you have no idea what God might do through a single act of obedience. Sometimes the most amazing things happen when we don't do what people want, but we do one small act of obedience toward God. And you have no idea what God might set into motion when you live for him instead of living for people. It's pretty special to me that when I was in college, I was unfortunately living all for people, popularity, parties, what do you, blah, blah, blah. And that didn't work. Have any of you ever noticed that sin can be fun for a while, but then it's not fun? It's like a sneeze. Sneeze feels good and then there's snot everywhere, right? That's what sins like.

And so God prompted someone somewhere to give money to an organization known as the Gideons. God prompted someone to be obedient. And God prompted a man named Mike who was a Gideon to go to the campus that I was at. And I went to a class and came out and Mike was prompted to stop me, all the students there, some walked by, he stopped me and said, "would you like a free Bible"? And I started reading that Bible and I had no idea that God had prompted three guys on the first weekend of the church that looked at me and said, that guy's hurting, he needs Jesus. That prompted three guys to pray for me every day until they would see a miracle. And I started reading the Bible and I got a little bit excited about God. And then God prompted someone to invite me to a downtown Bible study where there was a man named Nick Harris teaching the word. And he became like a spiritual father to me. And then God prompted Nick to reach out to me to ask if I had ever felt called to ministry.

And fast forward to this day, the same guy who received a free bible had a conversation with a guy named Bobby Grunwald who's on our staff. And God had prompted him to say, what if we as a church created a Bible app and gave it away for free? And when you put all these little promptings together, you see that through our church family to only the glory of God, the Bible app is on 700 million devices today. And all the way through what happened? Prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting, prompting. Think anybody ever made a fun of Mike for hand out Bibles? Sure. Think anybody's said to a donor, you're stupid for giving that money to them. Sure. You think anybody said, oh, if you ask the guy to go to church, go to Bible study, he might not go, he might think you're weird? Sure. You ever think Nick might have wondered, well, what if I asked if he's called for God? He is really not. And he thinks that's dumb. God's going to speak to someone here and you're gonna stop living for the approval of people. I don't know what it's gonna be, but you're gonna say, okay, what?

You know, I am going to not foot put my favorite sport ahead of God. I'll cheer 'em on on Saturday, but I'm gonna be here on Sunday and I'm not just gonna be here, but I'm prompted to serve and use my gifts in the body of Christ. God's gonna prompt someone here to be bouldering school. When you walk in, a light walks in and everyone knows it. Maybe be bolder at your office. God's gonna prompt someone to stop playing around financially and tithe to get out of debt. God may speak to someone about considering fostering or God may prompt you to ask her out. And if she says yes, and if you get married, if you have a baby, you could name him Craig, because God sent me to help you. And besides Craig's like an old guy named you don't know any baby's named Craig. We need to bring Craig back. Because, don't do that. I don't even like the name, but you hear what I'm saying. We need to remember that extraordinary acts of God often start with ordinary acts of obedience.

Joseph could have done what a lot of people do and said, no God, that's too much. The personal cost of obeying you is way too much. And he would've said no if he was worried about what people thought. But he valued the heart of God above the opinions of people. In fact, in Matthew 1:24, here's what happens. "When Joseph woke up, what did he do"? Let's say it aloud. What did he do? "He did what The angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife". "When he woke up, he did what the Lord had commanded him". And why does this matter? Because obsessing about what people think about you is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you. But when you do what God says and you obey his promptings, obsessing about what God thinks about you is the quickest way to forget about what people think about you. So I am a recovering people pleaser and sometimes I'll look at the comments and want people to like me, but what I understand is that when you follow Jesus, you will never win the applause of everybody.

And here's what's interesting is when you think about it is you can't please everyone. There's no way. You please one group, the next one hates you. You get it right this time, you get in style today and you look at that picture in five years from now, and you look stupid. Have you noticed that? You work so hard to be so cool then you look so dumb. You cannot win the approval of everyone. But you can win the approval of God. You can please him. And how do you please him? It's impossible to please him without faith. And so when he speaks to you, when he leaves you, when he prompts you, when he moves on you, don't think about what they think, but have faith to do what he calls you to do, to be who he calls you to be and to live the life that he calls you to live. Because you cannot please everyone. But through the grace of Jesus and by the power of Holy spirit and living by his word, you can please God. And imagine the best news ever standing before God one day and have him look at you and say, well done. Well done. You lived a life that brought me glory. Well done, my good and faithful servant.

So Father, we ask today that by the power of your Holy Spirit, you would speak a word of faith. God to help us to heal from the need to please people but God instead to desire to please you.

All of our churches today, those of you who say I actually do care too much about what other people think. I could be a people pleaser and I wanna live for God instead. But you lift up your hands right now, people pleasers lift up your hands right now just all over the place, online, you can type in the comment section, I'm the recovering people pleaser. Just type it in right now and God, we just ask that you would take a minute and show us we're open. Everybody just say, Holy Spirit show me. Show me anywhere that I'm living for people. Type that in the comment section. Holy Spirit show me anywhere that I'm living for the approval of people. God just convict us out of living for this world and empower us to live for you. It may be financially, it may be maybe sexually, it may be trying to fit in the popular crowd, it may be trying to create a brand for you instead of trying to give glory to God. It may be living for a dad that was distanced and maybe he's not even alive today, but you're still trying to live in such a way that he would be proud or he would approve. It's living for what they think.

God, help us to put you first. God, help us to seek you in every way. God, lead our steps. God, even if we're rejected, even if they make fun of us, God, we put you first. God, help us to obey even in the small ways and know that you can do really big things through small acts of obedience. God, help us to put our faith in you, to live for your approval, not the approval of people because we know that we would not be a servant of Christ if we're living for the approval of people. God, give us the courage, the faith to live for you and you alone.

As you keep praying today, back to the verse we looked at earlier, Galatians 1:10, Paul said, "I'm not living for the approval of people. If I were living for the approval of people, he said, I would not be a servant of Christ". Some of you right now, you may look at your life and say, oh my gosh, like that's really, really convicting. If you looked at my life before I was a Christian, I would've said if he said, Hey Craig, are you're a Christian? I said, yeah, you know, I go to church sometime. I believe in God, but man, I was living for the approval of people. And if that's what we're doing, we're not a servant of Christ. And I had to come to a point where I recognized that I had been living a very sinful life. How do I get out of that? The answer is I can't do it on my own. But when I call on Jesus, the sinless son of God, the one who died in my place and a rose again, when I call on him, he hears my prayers and he forgives my sins.

Some of you right now, you're gonna recognize that you're actually not a servant of Christ. You're living for the approval of people. What are we gonna do? We're gonna take one step out of where we've been away from our sin and just one step toward Jesus. When you call on him, when you call on his name, he hears your prayers and he will forgive every single sin. You don't just become a better version of you. You are different, the old is gone and the new comes. Today wherever you're watching from, those who say, yes, I need him, I need his grace, I need his forgiveness. We're stepping away from our sinfulness. We're stepping away from living for the approval of people and we're stepping toward a fully surrendered life toward Jesus.

Wherever you are, you say, yes, I want him. I'm calling him. When you do, he'll forgive you. He'll make you new. That's your prayer today. You say, yes, I turn for my sins. I surrender my life to Jesus. That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now. All over the place. Yes, thank you God. For people today who are saying yes to Jesus at all of our churches, those of you online, just type in the comments section, I am surrendering my life to Jesus. Type that in the comment section, and today as God does a miracle, setting us free from living for the applause of people, today we live for an audience of one. Would you pray with those around you? Pray:

Heavenly Father, take all of my life, set me free from living for people. And help me to live for you by putting you first. Jesus, forgive all of my sins. Save me. Be the Lord of my life. Fill me with your spirit so I could know you and serve you and live for you for the rest of my life. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Now use me to show your love and to make you known no matter what they think. I'm living for you. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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