Peer pressure is part of everyday life. Sometimes we base our decisions on what other people will think or say rather than on our convictions and on what will please God. We’re worried that we’ll be judged or made fun of.
The apostle Paul experienced his fair share of peer pressure. Some Jewish Christians believed that Gentiles should be circumcised to be truly saved (Gal. 1:7; see 6:12-15). However, Paul stood his ground. He continued to preach that salvation is by grace through faith alone; no further works are required. And for that he was accused of being a self-appointed apostle. They further asserted that his version of the gospel had never received the apostles’ approval (2:1-10).
Despite the pressure, Paul was very clear about whom he served—Christ. God’s approval mattered most, not man’s. He made it his goal not to win the approval of people, but of God (1:10).
Similarly, we are Christ’s servants. We serve God whether people honor or despise us, whether they slander or praise us. One day “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Rom. 14:12). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t consider what people think or say, but ultimately, we make pleasing God our main concern. We want to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23).
It used to bother me that the closer I drew to God in my walk with Him, the more sinful I felt. Then a phenomenon I observed in my room enlightened me. A tiny gap in the curtain covering my window threw a ray of light into the room. As I looked, I saw particles of dirt drifting in the beam. Without the ray of light, the room seemed clean, but the light revealed the dirty particles.
Not long ago, someone asked me a very tough question: “What is the longest you have gone without sinning? A week, a day, an hour?” How can we answer a question like that? If we’re truthful, we might say, “I can’t live a day without sinning.” Or if we look back over the past week, we might see that we haven’t confessed to God even one sin. But we would be fooling ourselves if we said we hadn’t sinned in our thoughts or actions for a week.
As a young man, Robert Robinson (1735–1790) enjoyed getting into trouble with his friends, so the stories go. At age 17, though, he heard a sermon by George Whitefield from Matthew 3:7, and realized his need for salvation in Christ. The Lord changed Robinson’s life, and he became a preacher. He also wrote several hymns, including his best-known “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Bill was a friend of mine in semi- nary who had come to Christ out of a blatantly sinful lifestyle. He described it this way: “I was driving down the street drinking a bottle of brandy with another man’s wife at my side. When I saw some Christians on the sidewalk witnessing to passersby about Christ, I drove by and shouted, ‘Fools!’ But only a few weeks later I found myself kneeling in a church and asking Christ to become my Savior and Lord.” Bill’s conversion resulted in his giving up his old ways and experiencing a new life in Christ. It was a life-changing turnaround.
I have a friend who recently underwent a laryngoscopy. I winced as he explained how his doctor took a camera with a light on the end and stuck it down his throat to try to find the cause of his pain.
While waiting at the doctor’s office, I read an article about the importance of freedom of speech. The writer suggested that producing obscene movies and pornography is good because it helps us to see our own potential for evil. He believes that naively thinking we are innocent is worse than knowing about and watching evil.