If we are honest, many of us will admit to struggling in this area. I know I do. How about you? Is there someone whose approval is most important to you? The truth is, if we are seeking the approval of anyone other than God then we are missing the mark; because on some level we believe that they, rather than God, are the source for meeting a particular need in our lives.
The Bible teaches us that there is no one apart from God who is qualified to approve or disapprove of another, because there is no one free from fault or sin (Roman 14:10-12). In the same way, there is no one capable of meeting and satisfying the deepest needs in in our hearts, because we are all by nature human and needy ourselves.
It is true that we are encouraged to be all things to all people for the sake of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), and even commanded to put others needs in front of our own (Philippians 2:3-4). But as in all things, the motives of our hearts are what God is most concerned with. If our hearts are right and pure before God, our service to others will flow out of that love for Him. But if we are approval-seekers, we will be driven to serve others out of our own need and we will be enslaved by it.
As we begin to place our expectations in God alone for all of our needs, no matter how great or small, we will grow to see that He alone truly is our source for satisfaction and approval. This takes a great burden off of our relationships with each other and puts the burden where it should be, on God. We can then be free to encourage, mentor, love, and pray for others needs, rather than carrying the unrealistic expectation of seeing our own needs met through them; thereby freeing us to enjoy true fellowship with each other as God intended.
Because we are now concerned only with God’s approval rather than man’s, our motivation becomes a sincere desire to see others set free to live a life pleasing to Him. We are then able to share the truth with those to whom we come in contact, without being hindered by our own insecurities about what they may think of us personally.
Jesus is Our Example
The Lord Jesus deeply loved those to whom He spoke and ministered, but He never watered down the truth or attempted to appeal to anyone’s personal viewpoints. He was not concerned about their approval or agreement with His message, because He was completely given to accomplishing the will of His Father and obtaining His approval, regardless of the personal consequences to Himself.
We can follow in Christ’s footsteps by resolving to live the truth, as well as speak the truth lovingly and boldly to all – regardless of who they are or their response to us personally. This is possible only when our motivation is to please God and seek His approval alone, knowing that He is the source for our deepest needs and acceptance, not man.
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