[Jesus] was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah. 1 Peter 3:18-20 (NIV) What does this have to do with...
“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” John 5:44
Jesus says, “What is holding you back is that you love the wrong things. The big stumbling block in your life is what other people think. Your pleasure comes from receiving glory from one another.”
Here’s how this works: God gives you some success in your career, your family, or your ministry and people praise you: “It is really wonderful what you did!” What you did produced an effect that you liked, so you push yourself to do more of what you did to get more of what you liked.
This can start early: You get A’s on your report card and you are praised for it. Because the praise feels good, you feel that you must always get an ‘A,’ and you are driven by it. You can translate that into the world of sports, business, or raising a family.
What happens is that your life gradually becomes about creating an impression. You become like Nicodemus—a successful person with an empty and hungry soul. And here you are today, wondering if Jesus might have something for you.
Surely this is why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He is a well-known leader. He has a reputation. What will people think if they see this great man sitting at the feet of Jesus? So he comes to Jesus in secret.
Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, “If your life continues to be about impressing other people you will remain in your unbelief and you will miss out on all that I can give you. How can you believe, when you receive praise from one another? This is the great love of your life. That’s what is driving you. That’s what is holding you back.”
Where are you most tempted to look for praise from others?