Saturday, July 13, 2013

Seeking Approval

I have a dear friend and family member who is currently pregnant with her ninth child. It is something many people don't understand, and even those that do understand are often surprised by the fact simply because it is so uncommon in our culture today to have more than a set number of children. I know that her and her family get a lot of remarks, comments, stares, and judgement because of the way they are choosing to live their lives. Many people find it is irresponsible and foolish. Others simply find it something to make jokes about and laugh at. And then there are those that think, "Well, whatever works for them. It certainly isn't for me." Well, it is overwhelming, this idea of being fully committed to the openness of life, continually sacrificing your body and time for the sake of another soul to know Christ and His love, and welcoming any child that God may choose to give them. Who on earth would sign up for all this? Why would Jesus ask all that of her? Is she crazy?

I have another close friend who is soon entering religious life. She will be giving away all her possessions, quitting her job, leaving her friends and all that is familiar to her, and moving to a place where she will be living solely for the Lord in lowliness and humbleness. She is giving up many--if not all--modern day comforts: no computer, phone, or iPod, very few desserts and no snacking, a limited and stern dress code, very little traveling to visit family and friends, no car, a set meal plan (no more satisfying that sweet tooth or pizza craving), no sleeping in or taking a day off and watching movies all day. And that's just the beginning of a slew of other things she will be giving up or going without. She will be fully committing her life to prayer, fasting, and service. A lot of people don't understand. Some find the idea of giving up all their things pointless and too difficult to comprehend as these things have worked their way into becoming necessities in their lives. I can hardly stay off my phone for a few hours, never mind giving it up completely. And then the thought of moving away from all that is familiar and comfortable, all by yourself, is pretty daunting. Who on earth would sign up for all this? Why would Jesus ask all that of her? Is she crazy? 

"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~ 

You know, these women sure as heck aren't looking for the approval of man. If they were, I suspect they would have made some different decisions along the way. No, they must be on to something different. If they were looking to others to gain confidence in their vocations and reassurance in their identity, they would be left totally insecure and in a serious identity crisis. But they aren't. They aren't looking for reassurance from others that they are making the right decisions and on the right path. They aren't building their confidence and self esteem by the standards of the world and of our culture. They aren't trying to please human beings; they are trying to please God. 

I look at my husband. I am so thankful for him. In my eyes he is so heroic. He has an amazing brain and he could go on to do so many things that people would just be in awe over. He could go on to make a lot of money in his field and make his name known in the world. But he isn't fooled. He knows those things aren't what God is asking of him. He knows that all those things come at a cost that he isn't willing to pay. To name a few: the cost of time with family and friends; the cost of peace; the cost of leading a moral and virtuous life; the cost of growing closer to Christ. The cost of pleasing God by instead seeking to please man.

Too often I find myself lacking in confidence and feeling worthless because I have been seeking to be comforted by others and not by God. I want reassurance that what I am doing matters. I want a big pat on the back from people telling me, "You've made all the right decisions! You're so smart and it's good that you're choosing to ______. All of your hard work and sacrifice is going to pay off soon!" Well, people don't often say these things to me. The sacrifices I make are not often noticed, at least not by the majority of the population. It can be a real struggle to be so committed in my pursuit to follow and please God that I don't care what others think. Yet, in that struggle I often lose focus of why I do what I do and who I do it for. I suppose that is exactly what Satan wants, too, because the moment I start to care more about what others think than about what God thinks, who am I really serving? 

To help us all stay focused on our mission of being a servant of Jesus Christ, we should frequently ask ourselves: Who are we trying to seek approval from? Where do we find our worth? What if the cost of having worth in the sight of man was to give up our identity in Christ? Would it be worth it? What am I willing to give up for Christ? Am I willing to be a fool in the sight of family, friends, and acquaintances? Am I willing to be misunderstood and made fun of, all for the sake of living the life that God has called me to? Who, what, and where do I find my confidence? Am I placing my hope and trust in Christ, or in this world? 

"Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever."
~1 John 2:15-17~

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you."
~John 15:18-19~

What are we really here for? Who are we here to serve? Man or God? You can't serve both (Matthew 6:24). The ways of the world, the ways of man, are not the ways of God (James 4:4; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Psalm 40:4). Choose God. Seek His approval. Live for Him alone. In doing so you will store up treasures in Heaven and your reward will be that which is eternal and doesn't wither away (Matthew 6:19-21).