Mark D. Roberts writes: “In junior high, a boy named Andrew…was the classic nerd: overweight…thick glasses…skin so white it seemed he’d never been outside. One day some of the boys began teasing Andrew and making fun of his appearance…I saw the pain in his eyes and knew I should tell the other guys to knock it off. But I saw an opportunity to be aligned with the in-crowd. So I joined in…adding my taunts as Andrew began to cry…In my heart I knew I’d done a terrible thing…Sometimes the temptation to ‘follow the crowd’ is almost more than we can bear. We crave acceptance to such an extent that we do what we know is wrong so others will like us. This is true not only for insecure junior high boys, but for just about everybody. It’s hard to stand up to the crowd.”

Remember: Jesus wasn’t ruled by people’s opinions. Even His critics acknowledged, “We know you are a man of integrity…You aren’t swayed by others” (Mt 22:16 NIV). When you know who you are in Christ it frees you from the need to impress. Paul writes, “Don’t let the world…squeeze you into its own mould…let God remould your minds…so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good” (Ro 12:2 NIV). It hurts to be criticized, but it’s far worse to give up the course God has for you just so others can accept who you are.

At some point you must ask, “How much am I willing to lose in order to be accepted?” Can you take the pressure?

Will you be like Nehemiah, who said, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” (Neh 6:3)?

“Do not follow the crowd.” Exodus 23:2 NIV

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