The Only Opinion That Counts

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 14, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As many of you know, I am a huge sports fan. Over the years, I’ve seen my favorite teams receive both the benefit and the hardship of bad calls made by officials. The NFL Playoffs are upon us this year and already, there have been several questionable calls made that have impacted games and one absolutely horrendous call that almost directly influenced the outcome. Every time a questionable or downright ridiculous call is made, there are a lot of opinions shared through a wide variety of media outlets and around the water coolers at offices for days. When the calls are recognized right away by fans in the stadiums and they are perceived to be injustices against the home team, fans erupt with boos and obscenities directed at those responsible. But there is one thing that is true about every call and I often hear the analysts point it out: The only opinion that counts is that of the official who made the call!

Authority matters. Even in this day and age when we have technology that can confirm or overturn many of the calls that are made, there is still a lot left up to the official’s judgment. Fouls in basketball, penalties in football and hockey, and the strike zone in baseball are all completely subjective in the moment, even though there are guidelines for making the calls in the rule books. So, no matter how many opinions are out there and no matter how strong some people feel on their opinions or what evidence they feel proves their case, the original call of the one with authority to make it is what stands.

The Apostle Paul understood whose opinion really matters regarding his life, his work, and his plans. In Romans 1:8-14, he encourages the Christians in Rome that he prays for them often, talks about his desire to come see them when it is the Lord’s will, and explains his obligation to serve God by preaching the gospel. What is clear in the passage is that Paul is concerned about what God alone thinks of him. He starts off by thanking God for the enduring faith of the Roman Christians in the midst of trials, which has become known throughout the world. Paul then says, “God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times” (vv. 9-10). In other words, just in case the recipients of the letter question the validity of his words, he is playing the “God as my witness” card!

For Paul, however, it wasn’t just a “card” to be played. It was how he lived his life. In another letter, he tells the Christians in Corinth, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Paul wants to make it clear to all who read his letters that he is not distracted by the judgments others pronounce on him. The Corinthian church struggled with whether to follow Paul, Apollos, or some other teacher. Paul assured them that how he compares to other humans in their eyes is irrelevant. The church in Rome may have wondered if he really cared about them or if he was just speaking “Christian-ese”. He assured them that God knows his heart and spirit and is a witness to his constant prayers for them.

Later in that same Romans 1 passage, Paul talks about his attempts and plans to see them. Some scholars believe this may have been because the enemies of Christianity as well as some of the believers themselves wondered if Paul was really willing to come preach Christ in a place where it would be difficult to do so. He wanted to assure them that he desires to come and has tried to make it happen, but whether it does or doesn’t is up to the Lord. He also talks about an “obligation” to all people to preach the gospel. Paul considers himself obligated because he is accountable to God and he knows what God has called him to do. With a clear call from God, which Paul received not long after he came to know Christ, there was no reason for him to allow the opinions of others to make him question his responsibilities.

How do you handle the opinions and judgments from others? Do you spend a lot of time worrying about it? Do you fear that your personal reputation might be destroyed if people misrepresent you and your motives? Does this lead you to be constantly defending yourself unnecessarily? Take a look at Paul’s life through not only Romans but the other letters he wrote as well. Paul was often in chains, but he was one of the most free men that ever lived. He considered it a blessing to be counted worthy of suffering for Jesus. If you killed him, that would only get him where he really wanted to be quicker than he expected. Paul was singularly focused on serving Christ and sharing his gospel message and was not deterred by anyone or anything.

You may think it’s not possible for you to get to that point, but it is. It starts with recognizing whose opinion of you it is that really counts. It’s not that you don’t ever think about others. Paul himself said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). But in thinking about others and their thoughts and feelings, Paul never allowed it to override what God had asked of him. If it clearly opposed God’s will for him, he ignored it and moved forward. I urge you to learn from Paul’s life. When you allow worry and fear over the opinions of others to paralyze you spiritually, you can’t experience the joy, freedom, and rest of knowing you are approved by the One whose opinion actually matters. Maybe today is the day for you to begin experiencing those things.