turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. behold, i long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! [psalm 119:39-40]
i am an approval seeker, i want approval from the world for the way that i look, the way that i act, the way that i am. this sin is insidious, because it is self-perpetuating, that is, when i gain the approval of man, i am once again affirmed in how i look, act, am.
the opposite of approval is reproach. i dread the reproach of the world, and when i receive it, i get frustrated, anxious, bitter. i think that the world does a lot of analysis to dig to the root of this particular weakness of needing others approval and dreading reproach: we get the picture of the patient laying on the psychiatrist’s couch, expounding how they were never good enough for their father, or never received affection from their mother.
we can dig and dig, and all we will find is that people are broken, and broken people hurt other broken people, and generational sin will continue.
there is only one whose reproach we should dread. there is only one in whom we need approval.
do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [2 timothy 2:15]
we who are God’s children are to present ourselves to God–not as one in need of approval, but because of Christ, as one already approved, we have no need anymore to be ashamed.
rightly handling the world of truth sounds to me like the words of the psalmist in today’s passage:
“for your rules are good!”’
“i long for your precepts!”
“in your righteousness give me life!”
and so, if we continue to fear the reproach of the world–how must we think of it? first, we are not to be ashamed of the reproach we will bear because of the Gospel.
for i am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [romans 1:16]
it is in Christ’s righteousness that we–and others–have life!
second, we should bear the reproach of the world, knowing that Christ bore reproach and knowing that we are only sojourners, this is not our home, and we do not have to have the approval of the world.
so Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. for here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. [hebrews 13:12-15]
let me only seek your approval, knowing that i have it through Christ alone, and let me only fear your reproach, knowing that Christ bore it for for me. let me continually offer up a sacrifice to you, let my lips acknowledge Christ! thank you!
~ arwen eastman