Have you noticed that the so-called “popular” kids in school always seem to be happy and have perfect lives? Everyone praises them. Sometimes we wish we could be as popular as they are. However, the Bible says some surprising things about our desire to be popular.
Is being popular the secret for happiness? No, not usually. It’s in the Bible." And what sadness is ahead for those praised by the crowds – for false prophets have always been praised." See Luke 6:26, TLB.
What could be bad about loving to be popular? The Bible story of King Saul answers this question. Saul’s love of popularity turned to pride, then jealousy, and then hatred for David. Why? Because David was becoming more popular with the people than Saul. “When the king [Saul] realized how much the Lord was with David and how immensely popular he was with all the people, he became even more afraid of him and grew to hate him more with every passing day” (1 Samuel 18:28-29, TLB). Saul’s sad ending proves a truth in the Bible. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18, NASB).
Some kids may try to get “in” with the popular crowd by flattering them. The Bible says that "In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery" (Proverbs 28:23, TLB).
Should you worry about not being the most popular kid in school? The Bible tells us that “It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 18:19, NASB).
Wasn’t Jesus popular? Yes, He was. Yet when He didn’t do everything people wanted Him to do, many turned against Him! The crowds only stayed around when they were getting what they wanted from Him, but they left when they were not. It’s in the Bible. "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more" (John 6:66, NKJV). Even when Jesus was dying on the cross, "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem" (Isaiah 53:3).
Sometimes we seem to lose popularity when we make choices Jesus would want us to make. But that’s okay. Jesus also lost popularity when He made only those choices that honored His heavenly Father. Losing popularity for this reason probably means we are honoring our heavenly Father too. It’s in the Bible. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19, NKJV). It’s much safer to be “popular” with Jesus than popular with the “in” crowd.
So what kind of popularity is okay? According to the Bible, it’s the popularity that comes from being who God made you to be, rather than how you dress or what you do better than others. “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4, TLB).