Scripture: John 12:43, ‘They loved praise from men more than praise from God.’
Observations: Jesus is just about to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with his disciples and then be crucified, and so John summarizes Jesus’ ministry. The end result is that the Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Christ (v37), although this came as no surprise, in fact it was foretold in Scripture (v38-41). However, many people did believe Jesus even amongst the leaders. Unfortunately, while many believed that Jesus was the Christ ‘because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue. (v42)’ And then John says these confronting words. They would not confess their faith because ‘they loved praise from men more than praise from God.’ The Greek literally read ‘they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. What join meant was that they preferred to receive their reward in this life rather than the life to come. They were more concerned about public opinion than God’s opinion. They preferred other people to tell them how good they were, rather than to hear it from God.
Application: How true is that of us? Do we prefer the praise of others rather than the praise of God? Do we prefer our reward in this life, good health, pleasure, comfort, wealth; rather than our reward in heaven? How concerned are you about the opinions of others? The truth is that it is normal to want to fit in, to be accepted and valued, and even praised by other people, but the problem is when we put that desire before being accepted and valued by God. There’s nothing wrong with praise from men, unless it comes before praise from God. Jesus tells us to seek first God’s glory and his commendation, before anything else. What pleases God is that we desire his glory more than the glory of men, we desire his ‘well-done good and faithful servant,’ more than the accolades of others.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You are worthy of all glory and honour, and yet I confess that I often desire the glory for myself, and to be honoured by others. Lord, often the opinions of others matter more to me than Your opinions. I put fitting in before standing up for You and Your word. Lord, forgive my sinful pride that seeks the praise of men rather than Your praise. Lord, may Your Spirit grow my love and desire for You, that my life might be to please You and not myself, that my desire might be to live for You and not the approval of others. Help me become more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.