Seeking Approval

I’ve been reading in Galatians and was struck today by 1:10

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.

Paul is speaking rhetorically to make his point – obviously he is not seeking human approval by preaching the gospel, and obviously he is not promoting a message in order to win friends. When I read the passage that has this verse I immediately thought of applying it to ministry today: so often it is tempting to make decisions based on pleasing people or keeping people happy, improving numbers for attendance or givings, getting noticed by people in influence so our efforts can be validated. Does this apply to you? Are you so distracted by others’ demands that you’ve forgotten what God asks? I love checking in with Peter’s laundry list of qualities to pursue in 2 Peter 1:5-8

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure why I love this list so much. It’s not because it makes me feel great about myself, because I certainly miss the mark. Maybe I love it because it spurs me on, reminds me of what I’m aiming for even if I’m not there yet. There is always another step to take to go deeper in my relationship with God, and there is a great purpose for my life to bear fruit as a disciple of Christ. Peter says to make every effort, and that is a challenge for me. I’d much rather make an effort and then throw in the towel when I get tired or worn out.

Whether you’re in ministry or not, I think Paul’s questions are worth reflecting on. Whose approval do we seek, and are we measuring up? If we don’t meet the bar, is it because we need to change our actions or our criteria for success? Maybe both?

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Comments

Esther 30-03-2014, 00:09

When I was reading Galatians to prep for our bible study and I was struck by that verse as well 🙂

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alyssa 30-03-2014, 21:19

Nice! It has been such a good re-boot for my attitude lately.

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