Let the Dog Off the Leash!


It's tough to walk the balance between carelessly disregarding what others think of us and catering to it. It's not easy to block our craving for affirmation. But there is an antidote.

I am a golden retriever. No, not one of those adorable dogs with the blonde locks (I don't think they can type), but a girl who seeks affirmation all the time, from everyone, like... constantly!

It sounds a little something like this:

"Do you like my hair? Do you like my clothes? Do you think I'm pretty? Do you think I'm smart? Did you read what I wrote? Did you see what I accomplished? Did ya? Did ya? Do you love me? Love me? Love me?"

It's what I imagine a golden retriever is thinking each time she pummels her owner with slobbery kisses. 

It's cute behavior from a dog. Not so much from us. 

And lately I've been learning a tough lesson. Our insatiable (as in insistent, quenchless, unappeasable, urgent) desire for others to like us, to approve of us, to compliment us, to think we are pretty... is a trap. Because sooner or later we start to cater to that craving. We start to do what it takes to keep the compliments coming. The Bible has a term for this: fear of man. 

When we care about others' opinions more than God's opinions, that's fear of man. When we feel the need to defend ourselves every time someone thinks ill of us, that's fear of man. When we live for the approval of others, that's fear of man. When we spend our extra time scouring Twitter and Facebook to see if anyone has said anything about us, and then feel deflated when they have not, that's fear of man. It's a trap that will snag us every time. 

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe (Prov. 29:25). 

Did you hear it, girls? Fearing the opinions of others is a trick. We do what we need to do to get others to notice us, and then—zip—we find ourselves all wrapped up in what others think of us. We choose to chase the kind of beauty the world values instead of believing that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), and then—the noose falls—and we're tied up by beauty lies. We sense God asking us to "go" and "do," but we do not because we fear public embarrassment and then—we are out on the tightrope of disobedience. It's not worth the risk. 

But suppressing the fear of man is tough. It's tough to walk the balance between carelessly disregarding what others think of us and catering to it. It's not easy to block our craving for affirmation. But there is an antidote. 

Go back to Proverbs 29:25. How can we be safe from the trappings of fear of man? By trusting in the Lord. The opposite of fear of man is not ignoring what people think and say. The opposite of fearing man is fearing God and trusting in what He has said about you. 

So go on, girl, let your inner golden retriever off of the leash. Run free from the endless craving for affirmation, for compliments, for praise of man. Stop filtering your decisions through the fear of what others will think of you, say of you, or write about you on Facebook. Choose instead to trust in what God says about you and to live your life with a holy craving to please only Him.

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