Do you approve of me? Do you approve of my choices? My style? My career? Or what I eat? Do you approve of what I drink? Or the way I wear my hair? Does my parenting meet your approval? Do you approve of the choices we have made for our kids, or our family? Do you approve of how I walk and how I talk? Do you approve of me?
This age old question perpetuates an undercurrent of the fear of being accepted and fully loved for who we are. Being loved as we are. It’s a question that we rarely give voice to with audible words. It’s a question that impacts our decisions and how we live from day to day.
It’s a question that lingers in our relationships – unspoken but present.
At the heart of our humanness is the desire to be loved as we are. There is an endless longing for being wholly and completely accepted, each and every inch.
Accepted. Loved. Approved of.
Don’t we all desire this?
Yes, we do.
Whether we admit it or not our hearts long for an unconditional approval. This quest for approval lasts for a lifetime will only be fully quenched and satiated by God himself. God has been speaking to my heart about the approval and favor of men versus the approval and favor of God.
After reading through a lot of scripture on this topic I have come to a conclusion about approval.
The conclusion is this: Seek the favor and approval of God.
Period. Care about what He cares about. Love how he loves. Live how He says to live.
The result of this devotion and desire: God then blesses His children with the favor of men.
Galatians 1:10 (NLT) says this, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
On one hand, the Apostle Paul cracks me up! Like, give me a break people, there are better ways to make “nice” with people then tell them they are living for themselves and they need to turn to Jesus!
I appreciate Paul’s blunt clarity on knowing the why behind his relationship with Jesus. It’s not for the approval of others, but for the approval of God.
On the other hand, this verse breaks my heart as I recognize the countless times I have chosen to seek the approval of men- chosen to step out of alignment with God in order to gain the favor of men.
Right! I think this is a real temptation. Because in the moments of relating with other humans we are propelled by the desire to be liked, to be accepted and for approval. Often that leads to not saying the one thing that God is prompting us to say. Or not doing the one thing we are being prompted to do out of fear for man above fear of God.
I even wonder how many times I have thought that I had to respond in such a way that would be pleasing to men, even when I knew it was not what God would have me do – because I thought there was no other way.
With God…there is always another way. We just have to be willing to see it, to pause and ask.
Our desperate desire for approval of men renders us silent.We say “yes” when we should have said “no”. We say, “of course I can take on that project”, when God has already prompted our hearts that we are overloaded with projects.
If you are hoping to win a popularity contest on earth, the Christian life is probably not the life for you. Following the heart of God is not the fastest way to make friends, to climb the corporate ladder. Following the heart of God will look like lunacy.
But in comparison, following the heart of God will lead to respect from people. It will lead to favor in God’s time. I will lead to being in places of influence you could have never arrived at on your own. Why? Because following the heart of God means being led by a heart of love.
Following the heart of God will open doors that no one can shut. It will place you in positions the world deems reserved only for those with right degrees and certifications, or for those with the right family pedigree.
Seeking the approval of God, following his heart is not the easy path. It is “the road less travelled.” in the words of Robert Frost. But it is the road with greater blessing. The road with greater peace. The road with greater contentment. Because it is the road where God lives and leads. There is no better place to be.
There are several verses in the Bible that speak about the favor of God. And many stories of God extending favor on men and women who were hungry for his heart; Moses, Joseph and Daniel to name a few.
I want to share with you some of my favorite verses on this topic of seeking God’s favor above the approval of men.
Psalm 90:17 (NIV) “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Psalm 5:12 (NIV) “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield”
Psalm 84:11(NIV) “For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.”
Proverbs 3:3-4 (NIV) “Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.”
My prayer and my invitation to you is for you to begin to seek the favor of the Lord. May you seek to please God more than please men.
I pray the Holy Spirit will grow in you a heart as the Apostle Paul had, to serve God, no matter what the people around you have to say about it. May we be freed from the temptation to seek the approval of men.
If you are looking for more resources to grow in your faith, take a look at my website, http://www.stephaniewinslow.com
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