What Does the Bible Say About Seeking Approval From Others?

Seeking approval from others is a common struggle that many Christians face. We all want to be liked, accepted, and validated. However, when our desire for approval becomes excessive, it can lead us into sin and prevent us from fully following God’s will. What guidance does the Bible provide on this important topic? In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the scriptural wisdom on seeking approval from others versus seeking the approval of God.

Introduction

As Christians, we know that our identity and self-worth come from being children of God. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross covers our sins and flaws, so we do not need to earn salvation or prove ourselves to anyone. The Bible calls us to live for an audience of One – God alone (Colossians 3:23-24). However, submitting all our motives and actions to God’s examination is difficult to do in practice. We often find ourselves slipping into people-pleasing and becoming dependent on human praise, acceptance, and validation.

Seeking excessive approval from other people is dangerous for several reasons:

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  • It can lead us into sin if we compromise God’s standards in order to gain people’s admiration.
  • It fosters pride, insecurity, and fear of man.
  • It distracts us from living for Jesus and serving others.
  • It causes us to misplace our trust and hope in flawed human beings rather than the perfect Savior.

The lure of human approval is subtler than we may realize. This blog post will dive deep into God’s Word to understand His perspective on this issue. We will look at key Scripture passages and draw out practical lessons on having God’s approval as our primary aim.

Here are three key takeaways we will cover:

1. Seeking to please people always leads to sin and rebellion against God. We cannot serve two masters – God and crowds of people. Pleasing God must be our highest aim.

2. Being obsessed with others’ opinions reveals pride, insecurity, and fear of man. We are called to find our confidence and security in Christ alone.

3. Living for an audience of One frees us to glorify God, serve others, and obey Christ faithfully. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, human approval loses its grip over us.

Let’s explore these truths in depth by looking at what the Bible says.

What Does the Bible Say About Seeking Approval From Others?

Seeking to Please People Always Leads to Sin and Rebellion Against God

The Bible contains many examples of people who sinned and fell into rebellion by being obsessed with seeking approval from others rather than pleasing God.

One example is the Israelites when they asked for a king to be like the other nations, rather than trusting in God as their king (1 Samuel 8:4-7). God warned them that demanding a human king was evil, but the people insisted on having someone visible and impressive to lead them. Sure enough, most of Israel’s kings led the nation into idolatry and judgment.

Another example is the Pharisees, who were more concerned about looking righteous than actually having a right heart before God. Jesus rebuked them saying:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

The Pharisees were consumed with appearing perfect and holy in front of others, but Jesus knew their hearts were corrupt and evil. Their obsession with human praise rather than honestly seeking God led them into gross hypocrisy and sin.

As Christians today, we must learn from these examples. Seeking to please or impress people is often the first step toward compromising our loyalty to Christ. The apostle Paul warned:

“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)

Paul knew that living to please God and living to gain human approval are incompatible. We cannot serve both without being unfaithful to the Lord.

Jesus put this truth in the strongest possible terms:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

When we make anything – including other people’s opinions of us – equal to or above God in our affections and priorities, it becomes an idol. We must zealously guard our hearts against idolatry. The Bible says friendship with the world and craving its approval makes us enemies of God (James 4:4).

Instead of chasing human praise, the apostle Paul set an example of living to please God even if it made him look like a fool:

“Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness…He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Paul took pride in his weaknesses because they highlighted Christ’s strength and sufficiency. Unlike the Pharisees who hid their flaws, Paul was transparent to serve and glorify God.

As Christians, we do not need to prove ourselves to anyone or pretend to be perfect. Our sole aim should be living for the Audience of One – Jesus Christ – no matter how foolish or offensive it seems to the world.

Being Obsessed With Others’ Opinions Reveals Pride, Insecurity, and Fear of Man

When our thoughts are dominated by what others think of us, it reveals sinful roots of pride, insecurity, and fear of man in our hearts.

Pride makes us crave the spotlight and desire to impress others. Pride convinces us that we must display our best qualities and hide our flaws, rather than humbly serving God and others. The Bible warns, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

Insecurity makes us desperate for approval, addicted to others’ compliments and opinions of us. It drives us to prove our worth through our achievements, appearance, and the admiration we can gain. However, human applause is fleeting and unsatisfying. It will never fill the void only God can fill in our souls.

Fear of man enslaves us to worrying about opinions that do not matter. It prevents us from taking bold steps of faith and doing what is right when it is unpopular. The Bible says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

As Christians, we do not need to be controlled by pride, insecurity, or fear of man. God has given us an unshakeable identity as His beloved children.

The apostle John wrote:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… Beloved, we are God’s children now.” (1 John 3:1-2)

Knowing we are completely loved and accepted by God sets us free. We do not need to beg for scraps of acceptance from others or build our lives around their opinions. We can rest confidently in who God says we are.

Having this God-centered perspective liberates us to live for Him. The apostle Paul wrote:

“If I am still seeking the approval of people, I am not Christ’s servant. But if I am Christ’s servant, it does not matter to me whether people approve of me or not. I am not trying to please people but God, who tests our motives.” (Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:4 CEV)

When our motive is to glorify Jesus Christ, we do not need to be dominated by others’ opinions. We can shake off pride, insecurity, and fear of man to follow Him wholeheartedly. This brings great joy and freedom!

Living for an Audience of One Frees Us to Glorify God, Serve Others, and Obey Christ

When we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and live for Him alone, human approval loses its power over us. We become free to glorify God boldly with our lives, serve others in love, and obey Christ without compromise.

The book of Hebrews urges believers to focus on Jesus and seek heavenly reward rather than earthly applause:

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Peter also warns against being distracted by a desire for human praise:

“Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT)

Obeying Jesus will often make us look foolish and offensive in the world’s eyes. But if we live for an audience of One, we can follow Him boldly without compromise.

So how do we keep our focus on the Audience of One? Here are some practical tips:

  • Start each day in God’s presence, seeking to glorify Him. Pray, “Lord, help me honor You today in my thoughts, words, and actions.”
  • Regularly read, study, and meditate on Scripture to renew your mind with kingdom perspectives.
  • When tempted to sin, stop and ask yourself, “Am I acting to impress people or obey God?”
  • Confess pride and insecurity to God, asking Him to strengthen you with His acceptance and freedom from others’ opinions.
  • Invest in friendships with mature Christians who know you deeply and can exhort you to keep following Jesus.
  • Remember that as God’s child, you have immeasurable worth and security. Do not beg for approval.
  • Keep an eternal perspective. On judgment day, only our faithfulness to Christ will matter – not how people saw us.

When we live each moment before an Audience of One, it frees us from bondage to what others think. We can walk in confidence, security, and steadfast obedience to King Jesus. He alone is worthy of our wholehearted service and praise.

Conclusion

Seeking excessive approval and admiration from other people is a dangerous temptation that can lead believers into sin and prevent wholehearted obedience to Jesus Christ. The Bible warns us strongly against making people-pleasing an idol that displaces our loyalty to God.

When obsessed with others’ opinions of us, we reveal sinful pride, insecurity, and fear of man rather than finding our identity and security in Christ alone. However, when we set our aim on glorifying Jesus and pleasing Him above all else, we experience joyful freedom from control by human praise or criticism. We become empowered to serve God boldly, love others generously, and obey Christ faithfully as we fix our eyes on Him.

May this biblical perspective transform how we live each day! Let’s pursue an audience of One.

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