“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
Choices. Life is full of choices. Every single day of our lives. Often, we make choices about things and we aren’t even fully cognizant of the fact that we are making choices. Perhaps we should be more intentional about the choices that we make, or more specifically, the motivations behind the choices we make.
I have maintained a journal for the majority of my adult life. I’m fairly certain I also wrote in many journals throughout my childhood, though now those are lost to me. I remember when I began keeping a journal as an adult. My oldest child was about a year old, and I documented all manner of things about our day-to-day lives. Throughout the years, I have often thought that those who come behind me will most likely know me better once I am with Jesus because I have nearly 20 years of journals, most of which are the written prayers of my heart. For whatever reason, I was compelled to pick up those journals last week in search of some information. I am not quite sure what I expected to find, but I did manage to lose track of time. I have many leather journals, full of my thoughts, my hurts, my prayers, my life. What a glimpse it was into who I once was and how I have grown throughout the years. One recurring theme throughout these journals was that I am a people pleaser–well, less so now than ever before, by the grace of God maturing me in Him. I have never liked to disappoint people or to let them down. I do not like to make people angry at me or have them upset with me–ever the peacemaker. Yet as I read through some of my struggles and thoughts, I asked myself, “at what cost am I trying to please people?” The cost has been the acceptance of who I am in Christ. I closed the pages of those journals and felt a profound sadness at the heartache of the young woman I once was. I felt a renewed confidence in who I am today in Christ. And the truth of who I am in Christ has set me free. I am a liberated woman.
In our present world, we are in one of the fiercest battles of all centuries to not lose sight of who we are in Christ. We live in a society that encourages us to measure our worth by our accomplishments and acquirements. We must tip toe around how people will respond to us. In fact, in the modern quest for individuality, we have been taught to camouflage ourselves. We hide behind social media while vocally speaking out or for or against people, causes, everything, and nothing all at once. We want to fit in. We want to belong. It is time for believers to be brave. To take a stand for what is right. To take a stand for the truth. I wasted many years of my life seeking the approval of man, and, sadly, that approval is still elusive and will never be satisfactory. Only God’s approval is what matters. When I am saturated in Scripture, when I am immersed in His truth, His approval becomes all that I desire. When I seek the approval of those around me, I become a slave to them. Controlling people really like to wield this power. Those of us who are conflict-avoidant need to be hyper-vigilant in this. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery,” Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1. We were not meant to be enslaved to the approval of others. I feel sad for my younger self who longed so desperately to be unconditionally loved that I sold myself into slavery seeking the approval and acceptance of others. Jesus has taken me on this precious journey and He has taught me, shown me, demonstrated to me in countless ways that He is the ONLY true source of satisfaction I will ever find. What He says about me is all that matters. If He approves of me and my life choices, then that is all that matters. He cannot lead me astray. If I am living my life in such a way that wholeheartedly seeks His approval, then it matters not what others think or say.
Practice the pause before acting. Ask yourself if you are seeking the approval of man or of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any hidden motives of man’s approval prior to acting. Then confidently move forward seeking only for the approval of God in all you say and do. Jesus loves you and loves me so very much. All I want to hear when I see Him face-to-face in heaven is this approval: This is my beloved daughter with whom I am well pleased. Be set free today, friend, and pursue the approval of the only One whose opinion of you matters.