Whose Approval Are You Seeking? (Galatians 1:10)
By: Anne Peterson
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
I want to tell you a story about a people pleaser. I know the story well, because I’m afraid it’s about me. My husband and I were part of a monthly jamboree which met at our town’s community center. Mike played guitar and I sang with a couple of our friends.
One month, we had an event where tickets were purchased. I remember hearing that the money and tickets were not matching up. After almost everyone left, I took it upon myself to look for the missing tickets. At the time, I didn’t realize what I was about to do was over the top. So there I was standing in a dumpster at 11:00 at night, flashlight in hand, looking through trash bags.
It was that moment I realized I had little self-respect. Pleasing others was too important to me. Soon after, I had been sharing this with a counselor who suggested I read the book, Boundaries by Henri Cloud and John Townsend. In that book, I learned how living in a dysfunctional family had affected my self-esteem. And I learned that we are to be concerned with pleasing God, not people. The next time I read Galatians 1:10, I was surprised to notice the word “or,” I had thought if I sought to please men, God would also be pleased. I was wrong.
As I studied the Bible and grew spiritually, I learned that growing emotionally was also important. As a child, I grew up trying to please my authoritarian parents who would never be pleased. And when we don’t get approval, we sometimes carry that need with us into adulthood. The problem is, even if we please others, we still have that longing for what we never received.
Somehow, I struggled to believe anyone would approve of me. Even God. But when I came to understand what His Word said, and that he loved us as sinners, it was enlightening. God loves us, unconditionally. He demonstrated his love by allowing his Son, Jesus to be our sacrifice (John 3:16).
Realizing God accepted me, was something I desperately wanted, but something I felt I didn’t deserve to hold onto.
But as I kept reading God’s Word over and over again, my thoughts began to change. It really wasn’t based on me, it was all because of God’s love. My feelings about myself were transformed by truth. Reflecting on those truths, I felt like I finally had a place where I belonged. I belonged to God. I didn’t have to strive for God’s acceptance, because when I accepted the sacrifice Jesus made, I became God’s child. Totally accepted in the beloved. I know that God will never love me any more or any less based on what I do. He loved me at my worst. And he made me righteous when I trusted Christ.
At that moment, I was given access to God’s throne room, where I can climb onto my heavenly Father’s lap, night or day, and tell him what I need. Whatever I might ask him, is nothing compared to what God has already given me (Romans 8:32).
Do you long to be accepted? Have you struggled with people-pleasing? The good news is that you can please the one who really matters. It takes faith (Hebrews 11:6).
Anne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 16 books, including her latest book, Always There:Finding God's Comfort Through Loss. Anne has also written and published books entitled He Whispers: Poetic talks with God. Sign up for anne’s newsletter at www.annepeterson.com and receive a free eBook by clicking the tab. Or you can connect with her on Facebook.
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