This morning as I was considering what to do for my Bible study time, I went over to Revive Our Hearts. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I came across an article, Curbing the Craving for Praise, that I felt God was using to speak to my heart. The article pointed to John 12:43, so I looked it up.
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
John 12:42-43 (Emphasis added)
Wow, what an indictment! These who believed in Christ loved the approval that man gives more than the approval that God gives. Therefore, they were unwilling to confess the Truth. Am I the same? I am not afraid of confessing Christ (at least in this society where He is accepted!), but I still have to say that I am the same. There are other ways that I seek men’s approval rather than God’s. In fact, I do it quite a lot!
As a gymnastics coach, I often find myself hoping that my students or their parents will say something to let me know that they like me as a coach. Even worse, I sometimes hope that they like me better than other coaches!
I find myself hoping similar things as a wife and a mother. My children aren’t yet old enough to “rise up and call her blessed,” but I look for praise from my husband, other moms, and relatives in regard to these things.
Even in writing these blogs, I sometimes find myself hoping for the praise of some reader who will leave a comment.
I don’t think that it is completely wrong to enjoy men’s praise. It can be a wonderful confirmation that we are doing things well. The problem is if man’s approval means more than God’s. As Paul said, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God ? Or am I striving toplease men ? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
Paul also reminds us to do everything for the Lord since it is He who holds our inheritance and He whom we serve.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
When I am doing things in order to receive man’s approval, then I’m serving my pride. I’m not serving Christ in those times. I certainly don’t want to serve my pride! I want to serve Him! And I want to do it wholeheartedly. In everything that I do!
This is one area of my life that needs some pretty major work. I try not to act like it outwardly, but inwardly my hopes and dreams of receiving the praise of men consume too many thoughts. I must take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and instead think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure,whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The author of the article that I mentioned at the beginning recommended doing something physical to help give up the desire for worldly recognition. I think it’s a great idea, though I’m not yet sure what that will be, but it will begin with some time on my knees — the only place to appropriate the grace needed for this God-sized task. I cannot, in myself, change my heart from one of pride to one of humility. But He can and will as I seek to know Him more. What a glorious God we serve that He will empower us to be what He calls us to be!