We all have someone we are trying to please. So, whose approval do you crave? Is it your parent’s, children’s, friend’s, coworker’s, or church leader’s? Or, is it God’s?
In a world full of distractions, it is easy to take our focus off the one person whose approval we should be seeking… Yeshua! In Spiritual Blessing Blockers – Part 4, we learned that, without God, our hearts are evil and inclined to sin. How can we redirect our focus back to Him and learn to block the distractions that are vying for our attention?
Am I Seeking God’s Approval?
Should we seek God’s approval? The answer is, yes. This is not to say that we can earn God’s approval, but we should certainly be seeking it above the approval of others. True, it is not by righteous works that we are saved, but by God’s mercy alone. However, our righteous works, when done with a heart to please God, are keys that unlock the blessings that He has waiting for us.
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”—John 12:42-43
Jesus actually condemns the noble rulers for worrying more about the Pharisees than worrying about God. We need to recognize that our actions are a direct outpouring from what is in our heart. Recognizing what motivates us—the approval of God or the approval of man—is the first step to the freedom that comes when we are focused on God and His calling for us.
Am I Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons?
Every day we are faced with thousands of choices. Though not all of them have a right or wrong answer, many do. It is crucial that you not only ask yourself if this is the right decision, but also ask yourself, “Why am I making this decision?”
Is it because…
- You have a stirring in your soul from the Holy Spirit?
If so, great! Do the task and sit back and wait to see what blessings and lessons God has in store for you within the experience.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”—1 John 4:4 (emphasis added)
- You have pondered the choices for days and feel as if one is the most logical choice—even though you have not heard clearly from God?
That works! Sometimes we are not lucky enough to discern exactly what decision God wants us to make. The best thing we can do in this situation is to think it through, then make our best guess. If you have been prayerful and continue to be so, God is listening… and if you are listening, God is leading.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world”—1 John 4:1
- You do not want to say no, even though you know you cannot give the decision the time it deserves?
It may seem counterintuitive, but this answer is self-serving. We have to be willing to trust God to find the right person to bless with the task at hand. People pleasing IS NOT the same as pleasing God!
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”—Isaiah 26:3
- You do not think anyone will do it as well as you can?
We have all been here. Sometimes it is just easier to say yes than to allow someone else to come in and do things differently than we would do. Ultimately, we need to trust that God is in control and will grow someone else through the experience. He could also be working on softening your heart to accept change and be humbled.
“Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”—Proverbs 18:12
- You hope to get something in return?
This way of thinking will most likely lead to disappointment—either for you or for a brother or sister in Christ. We should be doing all things in love. Jesus’ sacrifice is the best example of this… He gave all to give you all.
“You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.” —Deuteronomy 15:10
- You want others to see you doing the task?
This motive is the gateway to disaster. Doing something solely for recognition is the fastest way to build a fortress to block the blessings that God intends for you. The Bible reminds us that the Lord knows our intentions even when the world does not.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”—Matthew 23:27-28
Other than salvation, the most valuable gift that God offers to us is discernment from His Holy Spirit. We have the ability to receive guidance and revelation from God as we seek what He is calling us to. In all decisions, we should be calling on the Holy Spirit to guide us.
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”—1 Corinthians 2:13-14
How Can I Resist Worrying About the Approval of Others?
By all means, let’s be motivated by seeking approval—but not the approval of men or the approval of our culture, but the approval of God. After all, He is the Righteous Judge. We will stand before His judgment seat, not before anyone else’s or our own.
Why Do I Put So Much Stock in What Others Are Thinking of Me Here and Now?
Perhaps it is a lack of focus. The Psalms are full of lamentations from King David crying out to God to deliver him from the insecurities that are plaguing him.
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”—Psalm 34:4
The truth is, it just does not matter how pleased others are with us if God is not! In the end, it is not the opinions of others, or even our own opinion that matters… it is God’s—and it is not an opinion, it is truth. And He is the One we should seek to please.
Growing in Spiritual Maturity
Learning to seek God’s approval comes from a growth in spiritual maturity. The best way to mature in a relationship with Christ is to:
1. Increase your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.
How? Set aside personal devotion time every day to be in His Word.
2. Decrease the severity of sin.
How? Allow the Spirit to convict and be humble enough to accept His help for the deliverance from the bondage of sin.
3. Increase the practice of Christ-like qualities.
How? As you decrease the severity of your sin, you will increase in qualities that emulate Christ.
4. Increase your faith.
How? All you have to do is keep your focus on God and He will offer up many opportunities for your faith to grow. Although every experience He gives you won't be for your pleasure, they will all be for your benefit.
I am Ready to Take the Next Step to Reclaim My Blessings…
After we gain spiritual maturity, we must connect the dots to be fully liberated from the blessing blockers that we have allowed to steal from us far too long! Acknowledging our heritage through the Jewish roots of our faith can positively impact all areas of our lives.
What blessings can we expect to reclaim when we take notice and decide to stop the pattern of blocking our spiritual inheritance?
The Bible tells us…
- From the moment you accept Christ’s finished work on the cross, you become co-heirs with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven.
- We are adopted into God’s family—fully loved, forgiven, and redeemed.
- We get to cry out to Him as Abba Father! The most intimate term that can be used in this relationship. God longs for an intimate relationship with us!
Learning about your heritage is the quickest way of knocking down the walls that have blocked your God-given blessings far too long…