On the “Wrong” Side of Man-made Fences

Wrong side of a man-made fence

It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4 HCSB)

 I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time worrying about others’ opinions of me and my life. I’ve worried someone will think I should do something different no matter what choice I make, and that someone will think less of me because of it. Truth is, sometimes they do. Other times I’m just imaging someone might object. I’ve had imaginary conversations in my head over imaginary objections to whatever it is I’m doing or not doing. It’s a completely ridiculous waste of time and mental energy.

The bottom line is what “they” think about me ultimately doesn’t matter. There’s only one evaluation we should seek, and that is God’s. Settling this in our hearts and minds is important, because if we are following God’s plan for our lives, it is a certainty we will be judged wrongly by others. Are we prepared to remain firm in our decision to do what God wants us to do and endure others’ judgment, or would we rather have their approval and face God’s judgment instead?

I love Elisabeth Elliot’s perspective of this in one of my favorite books, The Liberty of Obedience:

“It is not possible to behave in a way which would be understood by all, let alone accepted by all. God alone, who is above all and in us all, judges rightly, and therefore it is before Him that we stand or fall…. We may find ourselves on the wrong side of some man-made fences, but this is a part of the risk of following Him without reservation, of doing the truth, and of unconditionally committing our case to God.”

While both Paul and Elisabeth tell us we shouldn’t be people pleasers, they also both make it clear we don’t have a green light to do whatever we want. There’s One whom we do need to concern ourselves with pleasing: our Heavenly Father. The title of Elisabeth’s book, The Liberty of Obedience, indicates there’s freedom in following God’s blueprint for our lives – freedom from self-condemnation, freedom from others’ judgment, and most of all, freedom from Satan’s accusations. But that freedom only comes when we’re living in obedience to God.

What is God asking you to do or not to do? What is His purpose for you? Are you willing to do it no matter what someone else might think of you and if it means being on the wrong side of a man-made fence? If God’s plan for you is best carried out on the stage of singleness, are you willing to say “yes” to that stage for as long as God determines is best? Are you ready to say “yes” to the permanence of marriage if that is His best stage for you? Do you trust God’s goodness enough to say “yes” to Him in all circumstances?

It is only in saying “yes” to God and the purpose for which He created us that we find the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

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