People are approval-seekers. We want to be known; we want to be approved; we want to be well-thought of. That’s not necessarily a bad desire to have. In all actuality, it’s a God-given desire.
But because of the Fall, those desires—just like all other desires—have become distorted. Rather than wanting to be known by God, we want to be known by man. Rather than seeking the approval of God, we seek the approval of man. And rather than wanting to be well-thought of by God, we want to be well-thought of by man.
Something has gone terribly wrong. Even as Christians, we sometimes veer off God’s path for us and look to please man. This can take any shape or form. We need to reorient our minds to please God and understand why and how it’s better, even while considering the cost.
The Cost of Pleasing God
In order for us to be God-pleasers, we must first count the cost. Of course, we know God must regenerate our hearts in order for us to ever want to please Him, but even as Christians, it is still easy to drift into the arena of seeking the approval of man.
So what is the cost? What do we have to pay in order to please God? What will we lose?
JC Ryle gave his two cents:
“True Christianity will cost a man the favor of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted and even hated.”
In theory, it sounds good to be God-pleasers rather than man-pleasers, but do we understand how we will be viewed by the world? The world will hate us, just as it hated the Son (Jn. 15:18). Just like Ryle said, we must be content with being though ill of by man. We need not be surprised.
We also need to remind ourselves of this truth: the worst thing man can do is kill us; the worst thing God can do is send us to Hell (see Mt. 10:28).
Furthermore, we shouldn’t be surprised if we are mocked, ridiculed, slandered, or even persecuted. This is why we count the cost of being a Christian. It’s no easy thing.
The Beauty of Pleasing God
But understand something, Christian: the approval of God should cause us to not be afraid of the disapproval of man. So while it will be hard, we have the approval of Almighty God.
Believer, take heart in these precious truths:
- He is with us (Ps. 23:4)
- He cares for us (1 Peter 5:6-7)
- He is for us (Rom. 8:31)
- He will hold onto us until glory (Phil. 1:6)
These truths have been minimized because of how flippantly we use them, but meditate on them. Ponder the realities of these biblical truths. They should cause us to persevere in our faith and continue to not worry about how the world views us, but only how God views us.
So as you’re going through your Christian life, don’t be surprised when you meet strife by this lost, God-hating world. It’s coming, if it hasn’t already. But remember that the Lord is on your side.
John Knox once famously said that “a man with God is always in the majority.”
Take heart. Seek God’s approval, not man’s.
Soli Deo Gloria