One of the great challenges facing Christians is peer pressure. We all want to be liked and so the tendency is to alter our lives just enough so we will be accepted by others. How many Christians have compromised values simply because they did not want to stand out and be different?
One lesson each of us must learn is how fickle those around us are. Look at two incidents in the life of Paul. When he cured the crippled man in Lystra, the city erupted in praise for he and Barnabas. “They raised their voices, saying, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men’” (Acts 14:11). Paul and Barnabas did all they could to stop this action. Luke described it in these words, “They could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them” (Acts 14:18). The very next verse shows that the city then turned against them and stoned Paul and thought they had killed him. The point is obvious. Don’t worry too much about what your peers are saying.
Several years later a similar thing happened again. On his voyage to Rome, he was shipwrecked. While gathering sticks, a poisonous snake suddenly bit him. Now look at what his peers said. “No doubt this man is a murderer . . .” (Acts 28:4). But when God protected Paul and preserved his life the situation changed drastically. “They changed their minds and said that he was a god” (Acts 28:6). Again the point is obvious. Don’t worry too much about what your peers are saying. They are fickle.
So when you are tempted to compromise your principles remember these words of Jesus, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). If we succeeded and had every person around us praising us, we would be a failure!
Jesus said another thing that might help us with thinking that the praises of our peers is so important. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matt. 5:11). Contrast the words “woe” and “blessed” in the two verses we just noticed. Think about it!
So what’s your goal? Acceptance by others at all costs? Having your peers sing your praises? There is another audience which matters. It is not those around us we should seek to please. It is those who are above us! Cherish that day when you will hear these words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” That’s all that matters.