Question:

I feel like I need some words of encouragement and counsel on a personal issue. Thank you in advance for taking your time to give me a scriptural response that I can apply to my personal life. May God bless you in your efforts.

What I'm trying to do is conform my life to God's will as much as I can, as that is one of my New Year's resolutions. I'm pretty serious about it too but I wonder if I'm trying too hard. I'm actually putting my whole heart into it and I'm doing it out of love for God's word. But there's a serious problem I have. It seems to be a reoccurring one, too, because I've tried to do this before and it didn't work out right. I ended up just giving in to the 'current' of the secular views around me. It would appear that I'm surrounded by sin everywhere I look and also by immoral people who don't fear the Lord and honestly don't seem to to care about doing what pleases God. This makes it so much harder to be a Christian under these conditions and being around such negativity. After a while, it's almost like I have no choice but to go down with the negativity. I'm not God. I can only stand against temptation so long. I can do much better if I'm around more Bible-based people. And I don't want to appeal to the secular views in my area as the standard for living, but they force a person to their standard. I noticed a pattern that happens every time I try to go against the tides of my area by standing firm in the faith and following God -- every time I do this -- secular or worldly judgment seems to get brought down on me harder and harder to the point of my breaking.

At some point, someone in my work environment or social life will either say or do something very small, but yet seems so disrespectful, toward me, or blame me for something that is not even justified by anything. It just happened today at work again. A total misunderstanding by someone else caused them to look at me in a negative light even when I didn't want it to happen. They just want to exercise their right to have a negative opinion towards me. But 90 percent of the time, I did absolutely nothing wrong to deserve this. I'm sick of this happening. I feel like people need to learn to respect others at all costs, period. If I got to fight someone before they'll respect me, I'll do it. I've done it before. I know it's not the best way, but I stand for the good. I hate to see good people done wrong.

And honestly, sometimes it makes me want to put off trying to be a perfect Christian and just be what I am. I know I got a good heart, but I'm not perfect, and shouldn't Christians be immune to the wrongful judgments of others? Why do I feel like I'm subject to them sometimes? I don't want to have to feel the judgment of the world and the judgment of God coming down on me. It forces us to get disciplined by what seems to be two different governing forces, both in conflict with the other. God says this, the world says that, but God isn't supposed to be the only governing force? My natural reaction is to try to stay somewhere in the middle ground to balance out the good with the bad and not feel it so much. This seems to be a philosophy that works for me some times.

I don't deal with ignorance and people being disrespectful to me very well and I need help. Ignorance makes me want to respond with my own ignorance and bring it right back to them. I hate the fact that we live in a world where the good have to suffer for the bad. It's not fair. Everyone wants to play by their own rules, only a few make an effort to try and play by God's which is a lot harder to play by. Me taking the 'high road' often times lead to people looking at me like I'm weird or crazy. It seems to really tick people off even more and it makes me wonder if I'm over doing it. People want others to just be 'people' like everyone else, not gods. They hate it when you start living to a higher standard. And these same people seem to always have a personal hatred towards me after rebuking them for something that is wrong and I end up being right on the money about it. I think I'm falling victim of a Scripture that says this.

Of course, I'd rather please the Lord than men, but honestly, my hope is that by following the Lord, He will lead me to a place in my life in which I am surrounded by more positive thinking people and people who generally have more morals so that I can serve Him better. Because I am struggling right now I hope that God can guide my heart and actions and spare me from the wrongful judgments of others or help me better deal with them.


Answer:

If I had to pick one thing that appears to be the problem, it is that you put far too much emphasis on what others think about you. "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (II Corinthians 10:12).

You have the right idea that when it comes to morality -- the idea of what is right and wrong -- the only one whose opinion matters is God's. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). But you aren't putting that idea into consistent practice. You are rating right and wrong by what others think of your behavior, intentionally or not.

Of course people look down on you when you try to do what is right. "In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:4). People tend not to like other people who are different, and they certainly don't like people who just by being who they are make them feel they are inferior. People want to think that they are right and when you do things differently because it is the right thing to do, it makes people realize that their way is wrong. Rather than change, they will take out the messenger of bad news.

What you need to do is shift your attitude. How other people behave is a reflection of who they are, not of who you are. If they bicker and backstab other people simply because they are doing the right thing, then they are making themselves look foolish and mean. There isn't anything that you can do to make other people look better than they are.

As long as sin is in this world, your not going to avoid this. You just have to accept that it is so. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:10-12).

I prayed about this, and I know my prayer's been answered. Thanks a lot man. You're right, that is what the problem is, I DO care too much what other people think. I never was able to see it for myself though I guess. Thanks for your insight on this, I feel a lot better!

You're welcome.