In his iconic classic The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald details Jay Gatsby's desperate attempts to gain the approval of his beloved Daisy. Creating a world worthy of Daisy's desires, Gatsby makes his life a stage in hopes of regaining her love. While not strictly autobiographical, the novel bears shadows of Fitzgerald's struggles to be the man who would gain the approval of those whose opinions he valued most, his own and his wife Zelda's. Fiction and real life collide when the expectations of those around both Gatsby and Fitzgerald eclipse their reality.
God remained a distant figure in Fitzgerald's novel and life. But his temptation to live for others' approval is a struggle most people face, even believers in Jesus. Few would choose to live in fear of others' opinions. Instead, this unhealthy concern for what others will think springs from our fear of rejection.
Gaining the approval of other people, however, is not a sin. Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus grew in favor with God and with others. Likewise, Paul sought "to maintain a clear conscience before God and all people" (Acts 24:16). The problem comes when we make the approval of others our goal.
Even the most godly will fail at times. And our opinions are often shadowed by our sin nature. Anytime we put our focus on fulfilling others' expectations, we exalt their opinion over God's (John 12:42-43). What matters is God's evaluation of us (2 Corinthians 10:18).
Living a life to please others, even with the best of motives, is a false quest. Becoming a workman approved by God (2 Timothy 2:15) means living to please Him and assessing our motives and actions by the Word (Hebrews 4:12).
Only one opinion ultimately matters in life: God's. His expectations of us do not change due to emotions or circumstances; He remains consistent and true. , Regina Franklin, Our Daily Journey
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