“I do not accept praise from men.” John 5:41
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time enjoyed great honor and prestige in Israel. But to Jesus their approval meant nothing. He was about His Father’s approval. Whose praise do you seek?
If you were to receive gold medals, global recognition, prestigious awards, million dollar bonuses, world-wide acclaim, standing ovations, peer approval, top level endorsement, etc from the greatest leaders of the world. If your name were spoken in the highest of regards by Kings, Queens, Presidents, Emperors, and Popes…or the most prestigious influential global leaders of industry, commerce, finance, business… or perhaps a Senator or Representative or even a 4-Star General… what have you earned? Nothing.
You can seek praise and approval from the four corners of the planet and still have a heart that is seeking. When the only affirmation you need seek is God’s blessing and approval of our actions and plans. If God is not in our dealings, if we are not about our Father’s business, if we are not led by Him, and spend our lives in service to His agenda, then all we do is useless, ineffective and self-seeking.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of man or of God?” Galatians 1:10
Perhaps you seek or need the approval of your parents, spouse, boss, neighbor, priest, pastor, mentor, authorities, leaders… perhaps it is a former girlfriend or boyfriend, your children, brothers, sisters… your potential spouse? Do you treasure the praise of men?
Is it perhaps the approval, applause and acknowledgment of the 100’s, or 1000’s, or 1,000,000’s of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform stage followers you need for validation?
Is it the approval of man that you seek to confirm your value and worth?
Looking for approval is not what Jesus condemns; it is looking for it in the wrong place or in the wrong person that Jesus speaks about.
“Even if we do not have a strong sense of merit, we may crave the same result, namely the praise of men. Jesus warns us not to give charity or pray or fast in order to be seen by others. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5). “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for praise disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others” (Matthew 6:16). Jesus calls them “hypocrites” because in their praying and fasting they want to appear as if they treasure God, but in fact they treasure the praise of men. (What Jesus Demands from the World, 127)”
So how do we quench this need for the approval of people? Only Jesus. Only when we yearn for Jesus Christ and the approval of the God alone will the stranglehold craving of man’s approval be extinguished. Holy Spirit wants to help us to break the shackles of our approval seeking behavior. Seek Him and ask for His help to accomplish the impossible; He will help you to say no to ungodly glory-seeking behaviors. He wants to open your eyes, heart and mind to see God’s glory in the face of Jesus. All you need do is seek Him.
When Jesus Christ reigns supreme in our lives, we can deal with man’s praise, or lack of praise the correct way. Then we can say as Paul says, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11–12)
Being content with all we are in Christ doesn’t mean we should be uncomfortable or even timid about being a person of influence for the Kingdom. Rather, just the opposite. We should seek to enhance our influence, provided it is centered on the glory of God, not our self. The Bible puts says, “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) KJV.
Jesus teaches that our actions, our very lives should be lived in a way that brings glory to God. This doesn’t mean that we should seek notoriety because of our work or actions, or seek out and claim our fifteen minutes of fame. We should, however, embrace the relationships and opportunities God places in our lives. To keep a wise eye trained, even in the most innocuous of circumstances, for occasion that give glory to God. We must seek to cultivate new relationships and develop opportunities to be a witness for Jesus Christ so that those watching even from the periphery might “see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
So… whose approval do you crave? Where do you find your favor, approval, grace, blessings, truth, focus, influence, confidence, freedom, purpose, life, potential, power, healing, peace and praise? Only when we begin the serious self-work of relinquishing our self and our pride, and begin exalting Christ in everything we do and say, are we free.
Free from self-aggrandizing behaviors, free to live fully in the center of God’s will for our life and free to exercise whatever influence we have, however big or small, for the good of our homes, churches, communities… all for the glory of God.