Sunday, June 19, 2016
"So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him." 2 Corinthians 5:9
We are wrapping up a fun time at the beach. We have made beautiful sand castles, rode the waves, played competitive mini golf and had a lot of good family time. One common refrain of all this fun has been, "Watch me, Dad! Look at this, Mom." Flips and jumps into the pool are followed by "Did you see that Mom?" Sandcastle creations are celebrated by "Look at this moat" and an explanation of all the intricacies of castle architecture. As my boys called out to me, I couldn't help think that our desire to be acknowledged and to be rewarded for our contributions doesn't go away when we stop doing flips in a pool. Our desire for our parents' approval has a foundation that is based on our need for God's approval.
One of the biggest juxtapositions as a believer in Jesus Christ is the knowing that only through grace are we saved - nothing we have done would ever be good enough to to earn salvation (Eph 2:8) but we are created to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 say, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Each of us are created to do wonderful things, not to earn our salvation but to be all that God created us to be.
Our desire to please God and earn his applause is a good thing. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man who gave his employees money to manage for him. To the employees that managed his resources well, "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'Matt 25:21NIV Each of us should desire God's approval even more than my boys want to hear, "Good Job!"
As we get older our need for approval from our parents should transition to a mature God-given desire to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." If this doesn't happen we will spend our energy focused on pleasing people. As pop singer Lady Gaga has aptly put it, "I live for the applause." I know many of people who spend their time seeking approval from other people in their jobs, social circles or an online persona rather than focusing on God's favor and approval. This is an empty pit that never satisfies. The author of Galatians writes about the dangers of this choice, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Gal 1:10. This verse says if I am valuing any one else's opinion over Christ's, I have become their servant. My goal is to be a servant of Christ and to seek his applause.
How do you give God's opinion priority over other people's opinion? How can you distinguish between seeking the approval of people or God using people to refine you as iron sharpens iron?