My self-esteem does not depend on your approval.
It’s such a simple truth. Yet the overwhelming majority of our struggles in life successfully dampen our spirits because we cannot seem to grasp and live that out. We absolutely crave the approval of others. If we don’t get it…there will be hell to pay. Sometimes, literally.
Look what it has done to us politically. The great experiment of the American Republic has become the horrific disaster. Read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers and you get a sense of awe that our nation’s founders actually loved the cause of freedom and their fledgling nation so much they put America and her future before themselves. What do we have now? Government by polls and approval ratings. Politicians who demonstrate absolutely no conscience, conviction, or loyalty. You need look no further than the national debt to know unequivocally that there is no love of country in American politics today.
Look what it has done to us culturally. We have yielded to secular humanism because group after group demanded the right to legitimize their sexual urges. Because so many of them were educated and well-to-do we didn’t want to risk losing their approval. So we caved and sold our nation’s future out so we wouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable with others’ disapproval of our backward ways. As a result, 50 million babies have been melted with chemicals or torn limb from limb by forceps or other surgical instruments in their mother’s wombs so their parents wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their lust. Likewise with homosexuality. Hollywood and the Intelligentsia embraced this form of sexual perversion and so many of us didn’t want to face disdain and disapproval that we’ve welcomed it into legitimacy too. Never mind common sense, science, and medicine are screaming out it is absolute nonsense and physically and emotionally devastating to the person. We need approval so much we condone behavior that if practiced by everybody would successfully terminate the human race.
And then there is the practice of our religion. The desire for the Church to be approved by society is causing it to commit suicide. The more liberal the church becomes the fewer people attend. The fewer people, the greater the financial burden and stress those remaining have to endure and voila: shut ‘er down. Just so we can appease the lustful who want the Church’s approval for their lack of self-control and our willingness to grant it. What people in the pews fail to realize is how much better they would feel about themselves for being persecuted for standing with God and His Word than seeking and gaining the approval of the unapologetic sinners.
Finally there are the interpersonal relationships we all have that continually cause us misery. The nagging to change. The criticism for being faithful to the Bible. Everyone demands our approval and threatens to make us pay if we choose not to bestow it. So what?! When are we going to learn individually as Christians and collectively as the Church that we don’t need anyone’s approval!? I don’t need the approval of gay activists to know it is well with my soul. And if they really were in Christ, as they insist they are, they wouldn’t need my approval either.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “You were bought with a price; do not become slave of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23). If I belong to God the approval of no one outside of the Godhead is required. What else could Jesus have meant when He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). The believer’s joy comes straight or directly from God. I don’t mean this to sound like some kind of anti-community statement or pro-me sentiment but the simple truth is that the Bible teaches the Christian’s source of self-worth and self-esteem comes from God; not man.
I know that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) and that God’s will is for us to be in fellowship and community with each other. But the Body of Christ must learn that our fellowship with God supersedes anthropological community when it tries to supplant the will of God in righteousness.
What did John say? “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for it they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). All I am trying to say is…I’m okay with not gaining or receiving the approval of everyone I come into contact with. And guess what? God is okay with it too. You see even though God loves the world and everyone in it, it does not mean that He is okay with everyone. Both Testaments cry out that God is holy. Holiness does not accommodate sin. Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness “no one will see the Lord.” Your approval of me or mine of you has little to do with going to Heaven, living eternally, and seeing God.
So do what is right; not what is popular. Stand firm in the truth; not in the cultural trends. Sleep well if you have God’s approval no matter how many around you blister you with insults and condemnation.
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).