Devotional Thoughts: Seeking Approval

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When I was in seminary I asked me home church pastor what advice he’d give a young person like me headed into ministry.  He said, “Never listen to the praise of men.”  That has stuck with me through the years.  We can certainly become hypnotized by the approval of mankind.  We like to hear compliments.  We want people to like us.  We want to be approved.  When we find ourselves enjoying this we easily can lose our focus!  Some of us are just wired to be people pleasers.  We want everyone to be happy and to be satisfied with who we are, what we do and what we are going to do.

Paul, here in Galatians is addressing a people saying, “I’m astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel–not that there is a different one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7  Is people pleasing or seeking the approval of mankind deserting God?

Then later he says in verse 10: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

When we give our lives over to God we become a new creation and our desires shift.  We have a desire to please God.  Nothing else matters…until… the enemy creeps in.  Those of you who follow God beware because we have an enemy lurking and ready to thwart God’s plan for each of our lives.  We must be on guard.  I think an easy way the enemy dupes us and deceives us is to set us up where we have to choose between pleasing people and pleasing God.  What really matters?

I can only withstand these subtle attacks when I know what God requires of me.  I know God will give me what I need to get through any situation.  I don’t need to wander the earth trying to figure out everyone and what I need to do to satisfy and gladden everyone.  What a miserable way to live!  No!  God doesn’t wish this on any of us!  We wish it on ourselves.  Might this actually be deifying human beings if we are giving another person such a high place in our lives?

I’ve learned that when I keep my focus on God and walk in His ways everything else tends to fall into place.  Someone might not like something I said or did.  I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always get it right, but if I walked in the principles of God I am at peace in my soul.  I don’t stay up tossing and turning at night thinking someone doesn’t like me if I think God is pleased.  What matters most is that God is pleased.

With the holidays quickly approaching I’ve noticed a lot of retailers saying things like, “impress your guests,” wanting us to think what we have isn’t good enough to have a meaningful holiday meal together.  This is nonsense if we stop to think about it.  We know in our minds that things do not have anything to do with meaningful relationships and connectedness with other people.  Sometimes the most meaningful holidays are the simpler ones.  Buying things to beautify our homes to impress people will ultimately disappoint us.

Look out Christian!  The enemy wants nothing more than to throw you off course and pleasing people or seeking their approval can be tempting.  Will we choose people or God in these circumstances?  Choosing people before God will always end in disaster because people aren’t meant to be our God.  I cannot get from people what only God can give me.  

If we are putting God first, God’s love flows from us to others, but this isn’t people pleasing. Choosing God is actually choosing people too.  Our top two priorities should be God first, then people.   If God is pleased people will feel loved with a love that is so much greater than ourselves.  Let’s stop trying to be God or trying to deify other humans, place God on the throne of our lives and let everything else fall into place.  God bless you this holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas as you meet and eat with your loved one and your difficult ones.  Placing God first requires transparency and truth, not acting, lies and people pleasing.

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