Have you ever longed for the approval of others? Most of us have at one time or another, maybe even though we’ve read 1 Thessalonians 2:4—“We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.”
My emotional skin is tougher than it used to be, but I confess that a disapproving comment or look can still hurt. Know what helps? An ancient fable credited to the Greek slave Aesop (reportedly born 620 B.C.), who tells of a man facing the same challenge.
The man and his son were going to market, leading their donkey and enjoying the beautiful morning. A neighbor saw them and said, “How silly that both of you walk when you have a fine donkey.” So the father put his son on the donkey’s back.
Soon another man said to the child, “How rude of you to ride while your old father walks.” So the child hopped off, and the father climbed onto the donkey’s back.
Then they met another neighbor who scolded the father, “You are terrible to ride while your precious child walks.”
So the father pulled his son up with him. Of course, another man saw them and exclaimed, “Your poor donkey shouldn’t have to carry you both!”
So the two slid off the donkey, and the strong father picked up the bewildered animal and slung it across his shoulders. As they continued toward town, they met another neighbor, who looked at them in disgust. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” he exclaimed. “Donkeys are to be ridden, not carried!”
See? We can’t please everyone, no matter how we try. So let’s set our goal on pleasing the Lord.