You know when your toddler pulls something out of his mouth and drops it on the carpet in front of you and you just go ahead and eat it because the trash can is too far away? I'm not even going to front, sometimes I just don't have the motivation to walk that 11 feet. However, I'd run a 10K if I had my own cheering squad. It's incredibly motivating to run a marathon when your family, friends, and even kind strangers are cheering you on from the sidelines, handing you water, featuring you on their Snapchat, and slapping you on the back as you scramble by.
To be fair, it's possible they're just in a cheery mood because unlike you, they still have ten attached toenails and unlike you, they're the ones with a bacon, cheese, and egg burrito filling their stomachs instead of half a banana. Regardless, a cheering squad makes it easier to keep going. Same goes for when you're running the spiritual race that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9. What happens though, if no one is there to cheer you on while you run that race for your everlasting crown?
What if you had no one? No church building to attend, no ministry to serve in, no one encouraging/watching you serving or praying to the Lord? Would you still follow Him? Would you still read your Bible? Would you still not blame that smell on the guy waiting in line in front of you even though you *know* it's not him? Would you still serve others and share the gospel?
In John 9, Jesus gives sight to a blind man and the Pharisees have their judgey-robes all in a holier-than-thou twisted wad over it. They questioned the formerly blind man and he answered but it wasn't good enough for the religious leaders. They then questioned the man's parents and for their own reasons, the parents kept directing the Pharisees to talk to their son instead. They left their son to stand alone on his own against these testy and powerfully high ranking officials.
Even so, when the Pharisees called the man a second time for questioning, the man remained bold in proclaiming how Jesus had changed his life for the better and no soft handed, pearl-clutching, nose in the air, law maker can bully him into saying anything but. Even though the man's parents left him out to dry by himself against the Pharisees; even though the man was insulted and belittled just for giving credit where credit was due; even though he finally got a chance at living a comfortable life as long as he kept quiet, still, he boldly glorified Jesus.
Remember, he had just gained the ability to see for the first time ever. He no longer had to resort to begging for money. He finally had a chance to gain a satisfying life on earth - friends, a wife, a yurt, Shake Weights, Nike Jordan Retro 11s, colorful pocket squares, etc. Instead, he went the unpopular and narrow route - he risked all he stood to gain by giving glory to the most controversial and divisive name in existence - Yeshua ha-Notzri. He had brand new vision and yet this man saw more than most people see in their entire lifetime. He saw that the most important thing we can do in life is tell others what Jesus has done for us regardless if we have a Snapchatting cheering squad behind us or not.
What if no one stood by you as you risked your reputation to live for the Lord? Would you continue confidently in your race? What if your relationships were rocked in a negative way because you're now following God? Would you about face? What if your church friends turned their back on you? Would your heart still break for the things that break His?
We must live for God and His approval, alone. After all, no one is perfect aside from Him. No one offers everlasting life but Him. His opinion matters. Not yours, not mine, not theirs. Who can give sight? Not Clinton, not Trump, not your deodorant eschewing hippie dippy friend who thinks she can heal practically everything with coconut oil or vinegar (me).
If there's only One who can give life and sight, why should we be concerned with what anyone else thinks?