Today’s guest post is provided by Mary DeMuth, a nationally-known speaker and the author of 14 books. Her passion is to help folks live uncaged, freedom-infused lives. Mary is also a Hearts at Home speaker and author of the Hearts at Home book, Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God.
This post is excerpted from her latest release, Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus (Thomas Nelson). Find out more at www.EverythingTheBook.com.
We marvel at David’s confrontation of Goliath. While the nation of Israel cowered beneath this giant, believing him bigger than God, David ran at him, leveling him with a stone. God trumped the giant.
Sometimes we view people in our lives like the Israelites viewed Goliath, as bigger, stronger, and more important than God. We value others’ opinions more than we listen to God’s. We fear someone’s unkind words more than we seek God’s kindness. We forget that God is bigger still.
How can we be set free from this people-pleasing and people-fearing mindset?
One ancient school of thought involved detachment, becoming dispassionate about others whose lives negatively affected ours. In early church history, they called this apatheia. Not the same as apathy, it’s a deliberate disconnection from people for the sake of being able to thrive when relationships were painful.
I could’ve used this school of thought in college and early marriage. When my relationships went sour, or pain came my way through the hand of another, I atrophied. I couldn’t move, think, work, or do anything. I’d become so enmeshed in the pain of others that I couldn’t navigate my life.
I see this in some parents when they can’t let go of their children as they enter adulthood. I receive prayer requests for thirty-eight-year old sons from anguished parents who still fill that parenting role.
Our task on this earth isn’t to fret over everyone, allowing others’ choices to dictate our moods; it’s to seek hard the favor of God, to let Him be our fulfillment. If we base our worth on the success of those we love, we will constantly live on a false and teetering edge of security.
Other people can’t throw us into depression. We have the choice to exercise apatheia, to disconnect for the sake of prayer and our own health.
It’s important to note that persecution also comes at the hands of others. Paul asserts, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV). It’s an inevitability. Those who pursue Christ passionately will tick off the powers of darkness who will then incite people against us.
If we are fully tied to their opinions for us to move forward in our work, we will quit. Paul endured extreme persecution, often at the hands of fellow countrymen, and sometimes from people whom he had poured his life into.
But as I read the Bible, Paul doesn’t spend an inordinate amount of time directly addressing those folks. He points them out as a cautionary tale, but he doesn’t seem to spend emotional energy on them. If he had, he most likely wouldn’t have taken the second or third missionary journeys.
The truth? People don’t have godlike powers over your mood. They can’t make you disobey God unless you give them power. Goliaths may holler today, but they are small compared to the God who gives us strength.
Take some time today and ask yourself, “Who is a Goliath in my life?” Then choose to put Goliath in his/her place by remembering God’s bigness.