When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Gal. 2:11-14 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, I am very thankful this story has been captured in your Word, for it deals with a struggle we all face—living for people’s approval. I’m equally grateful it reveals the way of freedom—“living in line with the truth of the gospel.” Peter’s weakness is one I’m all too familiar with.
Father, I confess there are times when what people think about me has more functional power over my day then what you say about me in the Scriptures. When I’m not living in current and robust fellowship with you, disapproval and criticism, being left out or under-appreciated, can impact me way more than they should. Likewise, being noticed and affirmed, included and celebrated, can feel too good. I can fall into being an affirmation-junkie, abusing the narcotic of praise.
Father, help me increasingly live “in line with the truth of the gospel“—that is, more consistently with the truth, grace, and freedom you’ve given us in Jesus. May your desire for us, and delight in us, free me to be a servant of all men, and a slave to none.
Free me to accept criticism humbly, without becoming defensive or falling into self-contempt. Help me take back the power I’ve given some people to either “make” me or break me. Free me to love others as Jesus loves me. So very Amen I pray, in his holy and heart-liberating name.