Seek Approval from God, Not Man

As Christians, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeking approval and validation from other people rather than from God. We want people to like us, respect us, and think highly of us. However, when our sense of worth and value is tied to what other people think, we’re building our lives on a shaky foundation. The Bible makes it clear – our true identity and belonging is found in Christ alone. God’s approval is the only approval that matters eternally.

Key Takeaways:

  • Our deepest need for love and acceptance can only be met through a relationship with God.
  • Seeking approval from other people leads to compromise, jealousy, and comparisons.
  • God’s love for us is unconditional – it cannot be earned or lost.
  • When we rest in our approval from God, we are free to live for His glory.
  • We must renew our minds daily with the truth of God’s Word.
Seek Approval from God, Not Man

Our Need for Approval

God created us with a fundamental need for love and acceptance. We all want to belong, to feel valued, affirmed, and approved of. However, since the Fall, this God-given desire often gets twisted and distorted. Rather than seeking our approval in God alone, we look horizontally to others to meet this need.

The prophet Jeremiah describes the human heart as “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV). Our hearts are prone to looking to people, status, accomplishments, and possessions for identity and worth. We believe if only we can gain people’s approval, we’ll feel good about ourselves. But as author Tim Keller explains:

“Outside of faith in the God of grace, the salvation of the soul is like trying to quench your desperate thirst with salt water. The more approval, acceptance, and affection you get from the world, the needier you will become.”

No amount of human praise can satisfy our soul’s deepest needs. We were created for a relationship with God. Jesus makes this clear:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

The Pitfalls of People-Pleasing

When we make people’s opinions of greater importance than God’s, our lives descend into compromise, jealousy, and comparisons.

We will compromise God’s standards to gain acceptance. Paul writes, “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.” (Galatians 1:10 NIV). Pleasing God and pleasing people are mutually exclusive goals.

We become jealous of those who seem to have approval we crave. The spotlight on their talents or influence exposes our inadequacy. But as John the Baptist declared, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 NKJV). Fulfillment is found in lifting up Christ, not ourselves.

We constantly compare ourselves with others. Assuming their approval means they are better than us, we are trapped in envy or pride. But Paul warns, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV). Our worth is not determined by comparisons.

The truth is, people’s opinions are a fluctuating, unstable foundation for identity and security. As author Alyssa Joy Bethke writes, “Humans are fickle. They change their minds. The crowds that cried ‘hosanna’ on Sunday were shouting ‘crucify him’ by Friday.” Seeking ultimate approval from such changeable sources will always lead to disappointment. There is only one sure source of unconditional love. As the psalmist declares,

“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalms 149:4 NKJV)

God’s Unconditional Love

While people’s approval is fleeting, partial, and conditional, God’s love is unchanging, complete, and without condition.

The Bible tell us:

  • “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)
  • “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15 NIV)
  • “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39 NIV)

There is nothing we can do to earn more of God’s love. There is nothing we can do to lose God’s love. He knows us completely, loves us unconditionally, and will never leave us.

King David, in spite of grievous sin, was confident in God’s approval declaring, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalm 45:7 NKJV). Our faithfulness does not increase God’s love, nor does our sinfulness decrease it. His love for us is constant.

Understanding thistransforms how we live. The need for human validation diminishes in light of God’s unwavering love and delight in us through Christ. We are now free to live for an audience of One. As Paul says, “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.” (Galatians 1:10 NIV)

Renewing Our Minds

Even though God’s love is unconditional, our feelings still fluctuate based on people’s opinions. Our minds need constant renewing in the truth of the gospel. Paul exhorts:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

We renew our minds by reading Scripture, memorizing key verses, studying God’s attributes, praying, worshipping, fellowshiping with other believers, and repenting of sinful thought patterns. As our minds are saturated in gospel truth, our thirst for human approval weakens and our confidence in Christ strengthens.

Here are some key verses to meditate on about our identity and belonging in Christ:

  • “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)
  • “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3 NIV)
  • “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 NIV)
  • “In him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV)
  • “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 2:20 ESV)
  • “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
  • “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)

As we daily reaffirm these truths, we become less consumed by others’ opinions and more assured of God’s love. We can rest confidently in our identity as dearly loved children of God.

Living for God’s Glory

When we are firmly rooted in God’s unconditional approval, we are freed up to live wholeheartedly for His purposes and glory. The pressure to please people fades next to the surpassing value of pleasing God.

Paul declared, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). A preoccupation with others’ approval hinders our calling. But trusting God’s approval liberates us for joyful, sacrificial service.

John Piper explains, “The deepest and most enduring happiness in worship is not a mere side effect of pursuing God; it is an end in itself. We pursue the full enjoyment of God in and for himself.” When pleasing God is our focus, joy is the result. His glory and our delight go hand in hand.

This does not mean we become indifferent to people or seek to provoke. Paul explains, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV). But others’ opinions are not our primary concern. We can humbly serve people without relying on them for identity.

Ultimately, all glory belongs to God alone. Our highest calling is to glorify Him with our lives. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all.” When we know ourselves as beloved in Christ, we are free to joyfully glorify God.


Our hunger for approval easily gets distorted into people-pleasing and comparisons. But we were created to find our deepest love and belonging in relationship with God. His approval is unconditional and unchanging. As we renew our minds in this truth, we gain freedom from the instability of human opinions. We can live with confidence in our identity in Christ and purpose in glorifying God. Let us seek the only approval that truly matters – from the One who gave His life to make us His own.

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