Who’s Approval?

It’s not really necessary that everybody approve of you and me and it really isn’t necessary that we avoid being criticized.

Scripture: Romans 16:1, 1 Corinthians 12


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? In the world but not of it, that’s the basis for this greeting that you hear day by day. You can be in the world but not of it. You can be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation as Peter says it. So, I trust that things are going alright at your house and I’m glad to be back once again with you for a few precious moments that we can invest together in looking at the Word of God.

We come now to Romans chapter 16 where Paul says, “I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church at Cenchrea: Receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you; for she hath been a helper of many, and of myself also.” Small thought here, don’t be afraid to say a good word about somebody else to make the way easier. Don’t be afraid to say a good word for someone else so that you can make the way easier for him or her.

I think we give far too little thought to this. Human nature of course is basically self-oriented. You look for your own face first in any group photo, don’t you? We’re basically self-oriented, I know that, but at the same time the blessed Spirit of God might very well, if we give attention to the matter, help us to measure up to Paul’s dictum “Look not every man on his own things only, but every man also on the things of others.” A word spoken on behalf of somebody else can make the way easier.

You want to give some thought to that today? Now, you don’t have to write letters of recommendation always although that helps. This, in its own way, was a letter of recommendation, wasn’t it? “I recommend unto you Phoebe, our sister.” So that can be done, a written note concerning someone. You know that somebody is moving to another community, write to the pastor of the church in that new community and say, “Dear Pastor so and so, a good friend of ours is moving into your community. I wish that you’d help to make them welcome. The name is so and so. It’s Mr. and Mrs. and a son, 12, and a daughter, 14, and he works for such and such a company and I just wish that you’d do your best to make them welcome.”

And you don’t have to say anything at all to the people who are moving. You can if you wish, but you don’t have to. Now, when they move into the community, somebody knocks at their door. Here it is pastor so and so and he says, “You know, John Doe wrote me that you were coming to town and said that he’d appreciate it if we’d welcome you and I’m so glad to do so.” Oh, that would brighten the day, wouldn’t it? Of course, it would. You’re having coffee one day with another executive who is employed by another company but you know that he has just recently hired a young man and this of course happens with me many times, a young man who has just graduated, let us say, from the school where you are.

And so we’re having coffee together and I say, “Hey, Bill. I understand that you’ve just hired so and so. You know, he graduated with honors. I hope that he’ll do well. He’s a fine boy. Keep your eye on him. I think he’s a comer. I think he’s going to rise to the top.” All right now, I haven’t said anything out of the way. I haven’t told the brother how to run his business. I just said a good word on behalf of somebody whom I know is starting and would appreciate a lift.

Later on, let’s say six months later, that man calls this young fellow into his office and he says, “You know, we’ve been watching you. I’ve had my eye on you, Jim. And,” he said, “Ever since Dr. Cook said a good word about you, I’ve been watching your progress”. You know that’s going to encourage him, isn’t it true?

Look for ways to ease the burden and smooth the pathway for other people. “A word fitly spoken,” said Solomon, “is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” You’ll always gain by saying a good word on behalf of somebody else. Will you remember that? Think about that today. Think about easing the way for other people. Think about smoothing the pathway. Think about saying something that will open doors of opportunity. You can do it and it will prove of inestimable value not only to the people whom you help but also to yourself, you’ll be blessed in the process, I guarantee it.

That’s why Paul said, “I commend unto you Phoebe.” Saying a word that opens the door is part of a Christian’s blessed opportunity. Look for chances to do that. You’ll never get into trouble saying a good word about somebody else, all right? Now, he said, “Phoebe, our sister.” And we stop here long enough to remind ourselves that we do belong to the family of God. Currently, we’re singing that little chorus “I’m so glad I belong to the family of God. Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod. I am so glad I belong to the family, the family of God.”

We do belong and another believer is your brother, your sister. We belong to each other. Paul points that out, doesn’t he, in Corinthians. He says, “All of us are different parts of the body. We have different functions and have different parts of the body. And God uses us all as a result.” And so no one of us can say, “Well, I don’t need you,” because we all need each other. The body is not one member but many. And by one spirit we’re all baptized into one body and have all been made to drink into one spirit for the body is not one but many. If the foot shall say because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?” Of course, not. It still belongs.

“If the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?” Why, he said, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? And if the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?” Now, he said, “God hath set the members every one of them in Christ’s body, as it hath pleased Him. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” He said we are all tempered together. All the members should care, he said, for one another.

“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members are rejoiced with it. Now,” he said, “you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” That’s Paul’s way of saying it in 1 Corinthians 12. “Phoebe, our sister.” “You belong to other people as members in the body of Christ and each person has his or her own separate and distinct function in Christ’s body.” Someone has said, I remember reading this years ago when I was taking some courses having to do with management and that sort of a thing, and someone has said that in every committee, there is the initiator, the innovator, and then there is the proclaimer, the person who declares it and sells it, and then there’s the evaluator, the person who says, “Now, wait just a minute. Let’s see about this.” And then there’s the accountant mind that says “What will it cost and when will it be paid for and who’ll pay for it,” and then, generally, there’s somebody who’s just against everything.

I don’t know what to call him or her but every committee has members like that in it. And you don’t fight them. You use them. The innovator is good because he or she comes up with the ideas, and the proclaimer is good because he or she can sell the idea to all the rest, and the evaluator is good because he can keep the whole committee from rushing pell-mell into something that’s ill advised, and sometimes the person who puts on the brakes, let’s face it, is used of God to slow the process down until it fits in with God’s timing. Don’t you agree?

Well, many times you’ve just said in despair, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with so and so on that committee.” Listen, don’t fight it. Use him. Use the person in the area where God has gifted him. Don’t fight his propensity to speak up or to come up with ideas or to evaluate or even to oppose. Don’t fight it, use it. Realize that God has set different ones of us in the body with different functions, different gifts, different abilities, and God uses us all together. I remember sitting one day in a hotel room in Los Angeles complaining to God. I do that sometimes, do you?

While I was sitting there complaining to God about some people who seemed to be born in the accusative case, as we say. They were just critical of everything I was trying to do at the time. And I was complaining to God. I’d say, “Lord, why do you let them do that,” and so on. Well, what happened was, that when I paused for breath, the faithful Spirit of God spoke to my heart and said, “Let those people alone. They’re Mine and they’re serving My purpose. I use them as my gadflies. I use them as people to show up the points where folk need to think and be concerned. So let them alone. I’ll take care of them.” And you know I got peace at that point regarding these dear brothers about whom I had been complaining to God.

You see, it’s not really necessary that everybody approve of you and me and it really isn’t necessary that we avoid being criticized. A person can learn from his critics, if he will. What is necessary is that God Almighty fulfill His purpose. And the Lord whispered to me that day, “These men are serving My purpose.” God has raised up some people to be innovators and some to be proclaimers and some to be evaluators and some, just to be maybe complainers, I don’t know, and some people to put on the brakes. God has different kinds of people to do what He wants done at the time. Let them do it. But you be sure that you’re fitting in to what God wants you to do, beloved.

Dear Father, today, I pray that we may be aware of belonging to the family and we may take our place in Thy will, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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