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
This concept has so many different applications that I have to take another day with it. Andy Stanley, a pastor in Georgia, has a sermon called “The Laws of Applause.” He said that “What is applauded as exceptional the first time will be expected the next time. Exceptional become expectional.” He points out that, “Applause is intoxicating. Intoxicated people don’t make very good decisions.” And finally, “Those most applauded for feel most entitled.” That means that we start to think that we are really somebody and we are entitled to our own parking spots, or that we have a privilege that others don’t have.
We can get addicted to applause, or the recognition and approval of others. We start to do things just to be noticed or manufacture “see me” opportunities. Have you been around people that always have to talk about themselves and be the center of attention? I can put up with it for a bit, but after a while I just want to avoid that person. The thing they are seeking is attention, but in trying to manufacture it, people resist giving them the very thing that person is working so hard to get.
If we are striving for applause in the things that we do, we are going to get entangled in a trap. We then would be doing things for the envisioned effect, thinking something like this (if we are a people pleasing applause seeker): “Then they will notice me,” “Or then they will see what a good person (or smart person, or gifted person) I am,” or even, “Then I will have value.”
Get this: Our value is not in what the fickle opinion of others is. If we are looking for our value to be determined there, our feelings will be bolstered one instance and then crushed the next because people’s applause changes with the wind. But if we get that our identity is in Christ and we are secure in that, we will do things because we know they are right and God pleasing. We will only seek the applause of God, our audience of One.
Back to Galatians 1:10, “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.” John the Baptist was a servant of Christ. He was a big cheese because he came before Jesus and he had lots of disciples. Then there was a thing with his disciples because they saw Jesus baptizing and they went and told John, “Look, He is baptizing, and all are going to Him,” in John 3:26. John understood who he was and what his role was. He answered them in verse 30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He didn’t need to be somebody. John the Baptist got that his role was to be a servant. He was content with being a nobody for Jesus. Are you?
Paul wrote Galatians to a church that gave up following Jesus by grace and went back to striving in the flesh to please God. He was pleading with them to go back to grace. We can think we are walking by the Spirit, but are really striving in the flesh. It’s like a brownie point system or “good dog.” We do things to get the dog biscuit. God isn’t like that, and He doesn’t want us to be like that.
One final thing: Don’t let self consciousness keep you from doing something God has put on your heart. We don’t need a boost in our self esteem to get going for God. We do need a boost in our God esteem. That means, focus on God and the fact that nothing is impossible with Him. And there is no limit to what we can do when we put our trust in Him.
Rest in His grace. Understand that you don’t have to earn God’s approval, or anyone else’s. Do things for that ‘audience of One’ looking to be a humble servant that simply obeys.