We are all addicted to approval. We want approval from our family. We want approval from our friends. We want approval from our colleagues at work. We want approval from our neighbors. We want approval from our church. We want approval from the stranger on the street! The problem with approval addiction is that it is never enough, and when it’s withheld, you go through withdrawal.
There is an answer to approval addiction, and it comes from the pages of Scripture:
[W]e have been approved by God. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
The only key that unlocks the door leading to a life released from approval addiction is the certain knowledge that you are approved by God. Knowing we are approved by God frees us from running on the perpetual performance treadmill of other people’s opinions. We are no longer driven by what other people think of us because we know that we are the objects of God’s desire—so much so God sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.
When the approval of others is no longer driving your life, you can stop comparing yourself with others to see if you measure up. In God’s eyes you always measure up . . . even when you don’t . . . because of what Jesus did on the cross.
For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)
I heard a saying many years ago that has stuck with me: “You wouldn’t care what others thought of you if you realized how little they did!” We spend far too much of our time worrying about what others think of us, without ever realizing they are far too busy worrying about what others are thinking about them to be thinking about us!
Peter found himself obsessed with the approval of others (Jewish legalists) because he forgot the approval he already had in Christ. Paul explained,
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. (Galatians 2:11-12)
We all have a bit of Peter in us, giving someone more power over our lives than we entrust to Omnipotence. In those moments we are living purely godless, horizontal, anxiety-filled lives, devoid of the power of the Gospel.
Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
Living in the knowledge of God’s approval frees us to live for God and not for man.
So . . . who have you been living for lately—at home . . . at the office . . . in your church—God or man? It is only by resting in the truth of the Gospel that we can live lives marked by the worship of God and service of others, because we know we are approved of God. That can never change, and will never change . . .
“For I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)
“I act and who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13 NASB)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!