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Written by Pastor Dan Williams for “Shepherds’ Talk” on 2/20/2019, for the Elders of his church…
“Seeking Approval From Man or God?”
Good (Snowy) Afternoon, Brothers.
So, listen, I have a confession to make: I am a recovering “approval-holic.” You’ve undoubtedly heard of “AA” (Alcoholics Anonymous). Well, I could be a card-carrying member–if not the president and spokesman for–“AA2” (“Approval-holics Anonymous). You see, for as long as I can remember, I have struggling with the idol of approval–particularly, “man’s approval,” and not, as it ought to be, God’s approval. When I was elementary school, it was my teacher’s approval. In middle school, it was “girls’ approval.” Then, when I was in high school, it was my coaches’ approval. In college, it was my parents’ approval. Early on in marriage, it was Laurie’s approval. And, then finally, at the outset of my pastoral ministry, it was my church’s approval. Virtually at each and every stage life, my heart has been enamored with and bent on chasing after the ever-elusive and always-fickle idol of man’s approval. Perhaps you can empathize…(hey, do you want to join my AA2 meeting?!…just kidding)…
But, seriously, it has only been a few years since, by the grace and goodness of God, my heart has been liberated from the tyranny of seeking man’s fleeting approval. Sure, I still fall back into old patterns and familiar snares from time to time. But, generally speaking, by understanding that Jesus Christ has won God’s approval for me (and for all his church) and ever lives to intercede and plead my case before God, I have learned that the altar of God’s approval is stained by the blood of His righteous and risen Son and that my only hope and joy is to count Jesus’s life and death as my own.
In Galatians 1:10, the apostle Paul was dealing with a group of Christians who were wavering and waffling between resting in Jesus’ work as the source of God’s approval, on the one hand, and their own work of ritualistic rule-keeping, on the other. And, Paul, I’m sure, felt the pressure to choose between two means of approval: the gospel of Jesus Christ or the “no-gospel” of self-righteous law-keeping. However, as a former Pharisee, Paul knew that there was no life in law-keeping. Paul’s pedigree and past religious zeal was now, by God’s grace, considered by him as “dung” (cf. Philippians 3:8). Instead, through saving union with the crucified and risen Jesus, Paul had come to learn that real life and spiritual approval with God only comes through Christ. Faith is Jesus brings the “new creation” for Christians (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17).
And so, he (Paul) says to these believers, “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 (lit. “bond slave”) of Christ” (cf. Galatians 1:10). Paul knew that there weren’t different “hues” of good news. There is no gospel that permits us to set man’s approval above or beside God’s approval of those who trust in the death and new life of His Son. And so, this means that those of us who are prone to being “intoxicated” with the cheap approval of teachers, coaches, relationships, vocations, parishioners, etc., need to sober up to the reality that there is only one kind of approval that truly gladdens the heart; namely, God’s approval by grace and through faith in Jesus.
How and where are you seeking approval these days? My earnest prayer is that it is solely through Jesus, and not, as is too often the case with me, in people’s feeble, fleeting approval. What helps to reorient our hearts when we succumb to the temptation of seeking the wrong kind of approval? Well, of course, it is remembering the gospel; it is repenting of such idolatry and vain-worship. It is resolving to rest in nothing less, and nothing else, than the all-satisfying, all-sufficient approval of Jesus. Listen, brothers; may we all strive for His glorious “Well done” alone. Friends, I’m praying precisely for this important area of your lives. God bless you.
Dan Williams, Lead Pastor
Trinity Bible Fellowship Church, Blandon, Pa.
P.S. (from bruce) When there is no other place to turn…turn to God !! If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ?? Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…
Picture credit: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1SQJL_enUS832US832&q=image+do+I+please+God+or+man??&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiKs5Pk88_gAhXkmOAKHaLbB_kQsAR6BAgEEAE&biw=1310&bih=796#imgrc=P0RSbAdskTb6cM: