From the day we are born we all seek approval. It seems to be part of genetic make up. We love the pat on the back, the “Well done”, the promotion, the applause, the……….. Hang on a minute is what I have said true? Is approval something we inherently need? Is approval the pat on the back, the applause, or is it….. appreciation. Are they the same? I have the feeling that they are different. I will try and explain why.
Approval is something we need when we are broken and not whole. To gain approval we often manipulate circumstances. Approval is an acknowledgement that a person meets requirements. It is standards driven and therefore not unconditional. Appreciation on the other hand comes from a heart of love, often spontaneous and therefore unconditional. “Appreciation has much more to do with the essence of a person rather than with performance. We are appreciating a person’s core Self, who they really are and the results of who they are, rather than what they do and their performance. With appreciation, there is no attachment to the outcome, no expectation that the other should or will continue to perform. Appreciation is a true gift.” (Margaret Paul, Ph.D.)
I have sought approval from others for most of my life. I never seemed to reach the stage where I understood and trusted that God loved me for who I was and am. There were many reasons for my thinking this way, but the bottom line is that I was willing to believe a lie. You see, we have an enemy whose only intent is to rob us of what our Heavenly Father has in store for us.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.“ (1Peter ch 5 v 8)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John ch 10 v 10)
I believed I wasn’t good enough to have God’s love. I knew that other people could be loved and accepted by God but I was an exception. My sin was different! My character flaws were different. I was angry and frustrated. I hit out at the church as an establishment, at the body of Christ and at God. I knew God was always there, I knew He was love but I could never reach the love. I tried and tried to step away from sin, to be different but I couldn’t. I had to be brought to a place where I could see that it is God who does the forgiving and not me. It is not me who chooses whether God accepts me or not, it is Him and if He says He cares and loves be careful anyone who stands in His way. I learned that God is a jealous God, He will take down anything that comes in the way of His children receiving His love.
I will write in another post about my journey and how God brought me back but I want to concentrate on “Approval”. You see when you look for approval, nothing will satisfy. First you start with those close to you and that is not enough. You then go further afield, again no satisfaction. In the end you are looking for approval from complete strangers. People who serve you at the supermarket, the postman, the person you see walking the dog, the chemist, the butcher, the baker, and not forgetting the candlestick-maker!!! You get the idea. It becomes ridiculous and incredibly tiring. All that effort, and for what? So someone who you don’t know, someone who is a non-entity in your life gives you a nod or a wave. The feeling doesn’t last as you will be out there again with the same manipulations you used last time to get someones attention.
I mention that horrible word manipulate! That is truly the difference between being approved of and appreciated. That is why approval cannot satisfy….. it is manufactured. It is not real. It is a decoy that satan has got us thinking is a worthwhile pursuit, something to put your energy into. Approval doesn’t exist!!! It is like the Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow, and the unicorn, you search and search for it and you never find it.
Jesus tells the story about two men who went to the Temple to pray. One was a Tax Collector and the other a Pharisee. To paraphrase the story. the Pharisee postures himself with the look at me I am amazing pose while condemning the Tax Collector for being unworthy. The Tax Collector stands and says “God have mercy on me a sinner.” The story is often used as an example of seeking approval but it is far from that. Neither of these men were seeking approval. The Pharisee needed approval from no one and the Tax Collector felt he didn’t deserve approval. What this story illustrates is the way that God looks at the heart and sees the motives of the heart. It is not the action that matters but the motive behind it. God never gives approval. Approval requires a work or a deed. An act of doing something. We can never do anything to attain His approval. The only way to God is through His son Jesus Christ.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John ch 14 v6)
Jesus is the only one who has His Father’s approval. So nothing we can do can make God love you more than He does now.
So why do we arrive at such a place? As I said earlier, we have at some stage in our lives believed a lie. A friend of mine, who we will refer to as YBW and who I hope will post some of his Godly wisdom on this site soon, has a term for it. He calls it ‘partnering’. YBW says that we always have a choice between listening to what our Heavenly Father says about us and what satan says. Often when the lie first appears it seems to fit a picture of ourselves that is already formulating, for example, “You are a failure”, “You will never amount to anything”, “No wonder your friends hate you”, “You are worthless”. YBW uses the word ‘hook’ to describe what happens next. We attach ourselves to the lie, we get ‘hooked’. Then slowly but surely we start to get hooked by words of a similar nature until we are really trapped.
The other option is to ‘partner’ with God. The safest place to find out how God sees us is in the Bible, His word. We need to get ‘hooked’ on the word. This is where this blog comes in. I want us to turn to our Father and know what He thinks of us.
In the Bible we can see He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to die on a cross for you. Jesus loves you so much that He was willing to die on a cross for you.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“ (John ch 3 v 16)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.“ (Romans ch 5 v 8)
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians ch 2 v 20)
Also if you search the web for Bible verses about God’s love you will find a lot more. I challenge you to do it! Find the verses that specifically apply to you and personalise them, as I have shown you in the previous posts. You need to declare how much God loves you, out loud declare. You have lived by partnering with a lie for such a long time that God has to renew the way you think about yourself.
“….be transformed by the renewing of your mind……” (Romans ch 12 v 2)
Here are some declarations on God’s love for you and your value to Him. I won’t put the Bible reference this time. See if you can find out the scripture they apply to and how I have personalised them to suit my situation. Some are easy.
- The Lord is my shepherd! (See easy, but wonderful)
- I am made in God’s image!
- God will never leave me!
- God is love!
- I am loved!
- I am the apple of God’s eye!
- God blesses my going out and my coming in!
- God wants the best for me!
- God sent Jesus to die for me!
- God directs my path!
- God is pleased with me!
- All of my needs are met!
- God blesses the work of my hands!
- God is my shelter!
- The Lord goes ahead of me!
Before I close, it is important to know that to step into all that God has for us, we need to see a need for Him. That is the first step. We need to see that we need God in our lives. To do this we ask Jesus to forgive us for trying to do things our way and ask Him to come into our lives to do the walk with us. He will make you a child of God:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John Ch 1 v12)
He promises to forgive us and give us eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”(John Ch 3 v 16)
If you want that assurance just pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank you that You love me and that you died on the cross for me. I am sorry for all the times I have tried to live my life my way, by my rules and have ignored you. I ask you to come into my life and show me how immense is your love for me. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. I want you to take control of my life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me be the person that you have always wanted me to be.
If you prayed that prayer let me be the first to welcome you into the family of God!! Next it will be great to get hold of a bible, preferably one that is a modern translation. New International Version and the New Living Translation are good. If you are technologically sound there is a great bible app called YouVersion. This not only has the whole bible with lots of translations but it also has very helpful bible study guides to give you a start. If you can’t download apps, the computer gives you access to a lot of Bible sites. The next thing that is important to do is find a great church. We can’t do this life without other Christians. This believe it or not is the difficult part. Find a church that suits you. It needs to have life in it. If the church is full of people who are over 80 don’t go in. Even if you are over 80!!!! Trust me!!! Have a look on the net for churches in your area and find their web page. If they don’t have one, stay away. If the people in the pictures look happy and contented give it a go. If you don’t like it find somewhere else. I can promise you that God has the right church, with the right people in it just for you. It will be like putting on a glove with the perfect fit. Ask God to bring Christian people into your life. You will be surprised.
Okay it is time to close until next time.
Remember God loves you!!