Whose Approval Do You Seek?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
(Galatians 1:10, NIV)

We are created with the longing for acceptance and desire for approval. It is what drives us and propels us forward. Even before we were born, as a fetus, we moved and kicked to get our mother’s attention. Having witnessed multiple process of pregnancies as well as process of labour, I have grown to be fascinated by the process a young baby need to go through from birth to adulthood. It may not be obvious, but at each stage in life, we all strive for approval and acceptance. A young child may behave a certain way because they crave for attention from their parents. We never seemed to get enough of it.

During my teenage years, I have an enormous desire to be accepted and approved and therefore, I treated life like a competition. I challenged almost every person I knew to compete against me in various competitions. Whether it was academical achievement or physical achievement, I enjoyed being a winner. Of course, in any competition, there are winners and losers. I hate being a loser, and although I act like a humble winner, I secretly rejoiced at the prospect of being better than someone else.

During my time in university, I came to know the Lord and became a Christian. Even then, that desire to compete and getting acceptance did not disappear. I tried to “compete” for God’s attention and God’s approval by being busy and being involved. My rewards are people’s compliments and praises. My mouth was quick to give the credit to God and my teammates for the achievements but deep inside I was overjoyed. When I accomplished something and I didn’t get the praise and compliments I thought I “deserve”, I “pat myself on the shoulder” and said “God knows my deeds”, as if God owes me now for something I didn’t get.

I thank God that He has since helped me to see how fruitless and futile my attempt at gaining approval and acceptance of men. I was given an opportunity to lead a youth group. Despite all my best intentions to help, and offer counsels as well as guidance, none of them seemed to make anyone accept me more. As I learn to meditate on my problems and submitting it to God, God revealed to me to live my life without striving for approval of men, but rather for the approval of One. As that realisation dawned on me, I was freed from the shackles that have chained me to a life of mediocrity. I am no longer afraid of other’s opinions of me when making decisions, I no longer act and behave so people will like me. Instead, I make decisions based on the right thing to do as God defines right. I act and behave according to the Word so as to please Jesus, not to please fellow men.

I know my life since then has never been more free than when I was chained by this selfish desire. As Jesus said, “… You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32) I know I have been set free to enjoy my life not based on other’s opinions of me, but based on Jesus’ freedom enhancing grace and love.

Friends, I urge you to join me in releasing yourself from being chained to the freedom-limiting lies of getting approval and acceptance of men, and instead live knowing that you have the approval and acceptance and blessings of Jesus Christ, who has been crucified to set us on a live full of grace and love.

Have you ever been so debilitated by the lack of approval you receive and thus become so unhappy because of it? How did you feel?

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