Approval is when someone looks to other people to impress "them" and make "them" happy.
- My parents value hard work… so I work hard to hear them say, “great job you have value”
- My friends value a funny energetic personality… so I made sure to play the part so that they say… “you’re accepted”
- My coaches value winning… so I try to win so that I could hear them say, “You’re successful and important”
- My religious friends value morality… so I do my very best in front of them so the they say “You’re a good person”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Your list might be very different but notice the similarity: what people have thought or think of you determines the way you live.
These approving and disapproving voices echo through our lives. Yet, like a turbulent ocean our life will be constantly rocked based off of others thoughts. This is because we will never be fully secure in our approval if we are looking to it in any other place than in God.
God wants us to walk confidently and boldly through life with unshakable approval. He desires HIS VOICE to ring clearly through the storm of our approval seeking hearts so that we can find our way. Here are three ways to help you see approval from His perspective.
1. We live from approval not for approval
"Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts" -1 these 2:4
Notice the flow of this verse. We have been approved (past tense) and so we seek to please God. The whole world stands before God in a place of disapproval because of our wickedness and sin. Yet, Jesus being rich in mercy took our sin (that causes disapproval) upon himself on the cross.
Through faith in Jesus we are thoroughly and completely accepted by God. For Christians our approval isn't on the line. Jesus lived the only perfect and sinless life and died a brutal death for sinners so that we can be now seen eternally as righteous and approved.
From our eternal and unshifting approval we desire to please him. We are now free in Christ to work FROM approval rather than for it. This is a powerful paradigm shift. Read this again and let it sink into your mind.
2. Our approval in Christ disarms 'masters' that we place in our lives
"He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." -Colossians 2:15
Have you ever been in this situation. Someone you are looking to impress isn't impressed with you and it rattles you. If you are proud like me you will 'shake it off' but revisit that conversation, the moment and become disappointed. You then occasionally hear their voice in your head either approving or disapproving.
Here is the bottom line: everyone we yearn for approval from can become a false God. Whatever/Whoever we worship and serve is functionally our God. Jesus came to not only save you from sin but he came to kick out the false God’s in your life.
If we are hearing and obeying the voices of people in our lives we are no longer following God’s desires. These squatters must go because he loves us too much to have them speaking words of death into our ears.
3. His constant presence will never leave
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
In relationships when approval is down there seems to become a distance between you and that individual. You may have experienced this with a friend, family member, or coworker. Yet, Jesus says in his departing words to his disciples (and to us) 'I am with you to the end of this age’.
This is an irrevocable promise that packs an amazing punch. We are FREE to get off the performance treadmill because we are NOT maintaining His closeness to us... He doesn't distance himself on bad days and isn't closer on the good days. He is with us not because we are amazing but because He is.
Approval from God through Christ is a key to freedom for us. It is a beautiful gift. We are forever approved and loved and that will NEVER change. No longer is approval our master.