“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10.
The fear of rejection is one of our deepest human fears. Biologically wired with a longing to belong, we fear being seen in a critical way. We’re anxious about the prospect of being cut off, demeaned, or isolated. Rejection confirms our worst fear — perhaps that we’re unlovable, or that we’re destined to be alone, or that we have little worth or value. We may feel like a failure. So how do we overcome the fear of rejection or more specifically, the rejection of others?
The first thing to do is realize that people will let you down. It is not a case of if, but of when. That coupled with the fact that we place far too much value on the opinions of other people is what causes fear. People are going to let us down. We fear people whose opinion is temporary rather than fearing God whose rejection is eternal.
In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel goes to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king. Samuel assumes it is the tallest of the sons. But the Lord tells Samuel he has rejected the tallest of the sons. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” That is good news. That is the constant theme in the New Testament: Jesus doesn’t care what people look like and how religious they look. He looks into the heart.
That is the main difference between people and God. When people look at us, they look at us externally. They look at our appearance. They look at our homes, our position, our salaries, our car. God doesn’t care about that. He looks at our heart. God sees us different than the world. And that’s good news.
He knows everything about you. He sees our weakness. He sees our insecurities. He sees our failings. He sees our fears. He sees our inadequacies. And He loves us. Some of you have a really hard time with this. God loves you unconditionally. Fall back on that love. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)
We can live in this trap of wanting the inconsistent and false approval of other people or we can resign the game and fall back on God’s unconditional love. I like to think it’s this unconditional love that stops our head from moving side to side and seeing what other people think about us and it stops our head and focuses our eyes on the only one who really matters anyway and that’s God.
- What difference does it make when you “open your life to the love and acceptance of God in Jesus Christ?” How does this help reduce the fear of rejection in your life?
- How does “living by God’s rules”—knowing what He approves and living to please Him—bring a sense of security to your life?
- What practical steps can you take to think and care more about God’s approval than the approval of others?