- “My Longing for Approval”
- Proverbs 29:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; Ephesians 1:7
- Lyndol Loyd October 1, 2017
This morning we are wrapping up our all church experience, Altar Ego, as we look at what it means for us to lay down what we think of ourselves in order to find our identity in Christ. One way in which a great many of us struggle to do this revolves around our need for approval.
We all long for the approval of others. We want people to like us. It’s the child who wants to please a parent. It’s the wife who wants to be complimented for going the extra mile. It’s the husband who wants his wife to be proud. It’s the worker who wants recognition for the job done.
Maybe, there’s somebody here who can relate. I want to give you five specific signs that you may be living for the approval of others. The first one, you occasionally or often worry about what others think.
You worry about what other people think. For example, if you ever have to give a public speech, and you’re really nervous, why are you nervous? Because you’re worried about what other people will think.
If you ever post something on social media, and then you go back twelve seconds later to find out, “Did anybody like this? Did anybody comment? Oh, a retweet. I got a retweet. Glory to God in heaven on high.”
We’re consumed with what other people think. I know none of you ever do that. Occasionally, when we’re getting ready for an important event, what will we do in our closet besides walking through an entire closet full of clothes and saying, “I’ve got nothing to wear”? We’ll put on two, three or four outfits, “Does this look good?”
At our house, we do the game called “The Which Shoe?” Joni puts on two different shoes and then she lifts a foot like this and says, “Which shoe? This one or this one?” I tell her, “This one.” She says, “Let me show you again. Let me go slower this time. Which shoe?” Why? Because we’re concerned about what people are going to think. “Do they like me?”
Sometimes, it’s something really small and insignificant. Someone will just say, “Are you feeling okay? What’s the matter?” “Do I look bad? What are you trying to say?” How many of you would say you sometimes care too much about what other people think? Raise your hands up right now. Okay, now look at those with their hands not raised and say, “You just care too much what other people think to raise your hand to that question.”
The second thing is we are often overly sensitive. I can be that way. One-hundred people can say, “Lyndol, I liked your message.” I zoom in on the one negative thing that one person says. “I’m a failure. I’m not any good. I didn’t make a difference at all.” A hundred people say something good but one person says something negative and I get overly sensitive and focus on that one thing.
Or maybe you get a new outfit and baby, you know you look good. The person that sold it to you told you you look really good. You can’t wait to wear it out in public. So, you go out and you are waiting for the compliments all day long. Just check it out. Check it out. At the end of the day, no one said anything and you’re devastated. “What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with me?” You’re overly sensitive.
Or you call a friend or you text a friend and they don’t call you or text you back for quite some time. “Oh, my gosh, did I say something wrong? Are we not B.F.F’s anymore? Is there a misunderstanding? Do I need to call again?” You start to find yourself being overly sensitive.
A third indicator that perhaps you are living for the approval of others is that you compromise your values. There’s something you believe deeply in, but you compromise it for the approval of others.
You’re a young girl and you love God and you want to honor God with your purity and save yourself for your husband. But you’re dating a guy and he says, “I love you, baby. You know, I love you, baby and I’d love you even more if you ‘mm-hmm.'” What happens? You “mm-hmm” and you compromise your values for the approval of someone else.
Or you’re a guy and you’re hanging out with other guys and you’re telling crude jokes. You know they’re not really honoring to God, but you laugh at it and you play along, or you use language that you shouldn’t use. Because you want to just fit in, you don’t want to be that religious guy. You compromise your values.
Or you really believe in being debt free and you want to manage wisely what God has given you, but you end up buying things that you don’t really need with money you don’t even have to impress people you don’t even know. Why? You compromise your values because you want people to like you based on what you have or what you look like.
Another indicator that you’re longing for the approval of others is that you hesitate to share your faith. You really believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he transforms lives and forgives sins and makes us new. But, you have a friend who doesn’t know that, a friend who’s maybe hurting and lost in his or her sin. You want to share the goodness of God with your friend but you don’t want to be a “freak religious person.” So, you don’t.
In essence, if you’re honest, you care more about what other people think about you than you really do care about them and their freedom in Christ. You don’t share your faith. You’re a little timider because you’re longing for the approval of others.
Finally, and this will speak to a lot of you, you might be longing for approval if you have a hard time saying “No.” Someone asks you, “Hey, can you do this?” Inwardly you’re screaming, “No, never, never. I’m busy. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t want to do it.” You scream no inwardly and outwardly you say, “Sure, I’d be happy to.” You have this horrible sense of guilt because outwardly, you’re agreeable, but inwardly, you’re resentful. You have an incredibly hard time saying no because you want to please people.
Why do we do this? The reason is that our egos are incredibly insecure. Our egos are crying out, “Like me. Like me. Like me.” “Affirm me. Affirm me. Affirm me. Make me feel good about myself.” But if we’re not careful, we’re going to miss one of the most powerful truths and biggest danger about people pleasing and that is this: becoming obsessed with what people think about you is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you.
In fact, Proverbs 29:25 says this: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare or a trap, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Fear of man — what will he do to me? What will she do to me? What will they think? What is their opinion of me? “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, a trap.”
It’s the – “Hey, do you like my outfit?” “Do you like my hair? I’ve got bangs now, didn’t have bangs yesterday. I’ve got bangs now.” “Hey, do you like my car?” “Do you realize I’ve got an iPhone 8s with an unlimited data plan?” “Am I cool now? Am I cool now?” “I just got a follower on Twitter.” “Am I cool now? Do you like my song?” “Am I hanging out with the right friends? Hey, hey, hey, am I cool?”
“But whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” What’s the problem? Pleasing people is idolatry; it’s the sin of idolatry. It’s putting the approval of people ahead of the opinion of God. It’s making people too big in our lives and God too small.
In fact, I would say this to you, it could be one of the greatest limiting factors in your life. If you’re a parent, and your big goal is, “I want my kids to like me,” they may like you today but they’re not going to respect you tomorrow. Because your number one call is not to be their buddies but to be the guiding force in their life.
If you want to be a leader in your school, and you’re consumed with what your friends think about you, you can’t lead them, because you’re following them. If you want to be a leader in business, you will have to make incredibly difficult calls that other people will not understand. You cannot be consumed with what people think about you; you have to do what’s right.
If you want to be a follower of Jesus, you cannot be consumed with what people think about you because you cannot simultaneously live for the approval of people and the approval of God. Becoming obsessed with what people think is the fastest way to forget what God thinks about you. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe.”
So, how do we overcome this disease to please? Let me give you two thoughts to drive this home, and we’re going to ask the Spirit to do a deep work in our hearts. We must focus on pleasing God instead of pleasing people. It’s that simple. We want to live not for the crowd, but for an audience of One, our Lord God. Paul said it this way in Galatians 1:10. He said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
You cannot simultaneously live for the applause of a crowd and live for an audience of One. We’ll focus on pleasing God instead of pleasing people.
This truth came close to home for me when I was a college student. Each year on the family weekend there used to be a student talent show that came along with a prize. I was in the talent show my Junior year and sang a song that wasn’t explicitly Christian but had overtones of Christianity. I had a good time and decided to enter again my Senior year. This time I auditioned with a song that was unmistakably Christian. A few days later I received word that I hadn’t been selected for the show. I was disappointed, but it wasn’t devastating or anything like that.
The next day a friend of mine who was involved with the family weekend told me that he knew that I had been cut because I sang a Christian song. This wasn’t okay with me. I called the person who had been in charge of the auditions and asked her point blank if that was why I had been cut. After she hemmed and hawed for a few moments it became clear that was exactly why I had been cut.
She told me that if I wanted they would have me come audition again if I wanted to bring another song that wasn’t quite so Christian. I wanted in the show so I started to think about what I could sing that would be more palatable to them.
As I wrestled with what song to do I had to answer a bigger question in my mind, “Am I going to stand up for my faith or am I going to compromise, play it safe, so that I can be in the show?” That was a pivotal moment for me. I went for the audition, but not with a new song. I brought the exact same song I sang the first time. Performed it for them and told them that if I couldn’t be in the show singing a Christian song I didn’t want to be in the show at all.
Now, you’re going to ask, “Did you get to be in the show?” The answer is, “I’m not telling you.” I’m not telling you because it doesn’t matter at all what those people on the audition committee thought. What matters is on that day, I made a decision that has helped move my life in the right direction. I decided to focus on what God thinks and not what people think.
Here’s something else that is revolutionary to me. Do you realize that you cannot please all people? Oh, you can try and you’ll wear yourself out trying. You’ll wear a certain outfit that this group likes but that group can’t stand. You’ll listen to music that this group likes but that group can’t stand. You’ll go to parties that this group likes but that group can’t stand. You’ll buy a car that this group likes but that group can’t stand. You’ll do your hair in a way that this group likes and that group can’t stand. Even in your morals, you’ll live in such a way that this group likes but that group can’t stand.
For me, what I had to realize was that I cannot please everybody, but I can please God. I can’t please all of you. There is no way.
I want you to say this aloud after me, “I can’t please everybody but I can please God.” Now, say it again with some freedom from your soul because you know this is what you look like most days. Say it like you mean it. Say, “I can’t please everyone but I can please God.”
“Obviously,” Paul says, “I’m not trying to be a pleaser. If I was trying to please people, I couldn’t be Christ’s servant.” I will focus on living for an audience of One instead of the applause of the crowd. Because becoming obsessed with what people think about me is the quickest way to forget what God thinks about me. I can’t please all these other people, but who can I please? I can please my God. I’m going to focus on what God thinks.
Number two, we’re going to live from the approval of God instead of for the approval of people. This is life transforming to internalize this truth.
We’re going to live from the approval of God. If you are a follower of Jesus, God approves of you through Christ; he already approves of you. You live from the approval of God instead of for the approval of people.
Paul said it this way in I Thessalonians 2:4. He said, “On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.” We’re approved by God. He trusts you with the gospel.
We are sinners. Jesus was sinless. He came to the earth to seek and save the lost. He became sin for us, died on the cross. On the third day, he was raised from the dead. Anyone who believes in him and calls upon his name will be saved. No matter what they’ve done, they can be saved. New life in Christ, he trusts you with that message.
If you care what people think, you can’t take that message out. If you truly follow Jesus, you will not be liked by all people. If you’re liked by all people, you are not truly following Jesus. You’re approved by God, therefore entrusted with the gospel.
He goes on to say, “We’re not trying to please people but God who tests our heart.”
The bottom line is this, when we understand this, for those of you that are followers of Jesus, because of what Christ did, you are the righteousness of God. When God looks at you, he doesn’t see your sinfulness; he sees the righteousness of Christ.
Because of what Christ did then, my worth is not based on what people think about me. My worth is based on what God says about me. Somebody needs to hear this. Your worth is not based on what other people think about you. Your worth is based on what God says about you.
Let me say it again. It’s got to get deep in your souls. Your worth is not based on what other people think about you. Your worth is based on what God says about you. Therefore, you don’t have to dance for the approval of others, but you’re living from the approval of God, and that is a game changer.
The big overriding question is, “Who does God say you are?” Among other things, I want to leave you this morning with things that God says about you.
2 Corinthians 5:17, “You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old is gone and the new has come.”
Ephesians 1:7, “You are forgiven and your sins are washed away.”
Romans 8:37, “You are more than a conqueror through Christ who gives you strength.”
Ephesians 2:10, “You are my masterpiece. You are created in Christ Jesus to do good works which I prepared in advance for you to do.”
Mathew 5:14, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”