Approval of Man: Harlot or Lover

He Punched the Care Out of Me!

He Punched the Care Out of Me!

For decades I went through this world looking for the approval of man, seeking awareness, affirmation and affection. I strolled around with hopes of being seen and loved. No bystander was immune to my desire for engagement. Like an expectant child, I wandered about looking for another to delight in me.

He Punched the Care Out of Me!
What I repeatedly found was the opposite. Instead of delight I found disgust. This isn’t a country western song, however, so let me show you how it’s the song of the Lord.

Jennifer wrote yesterday about my immunity to the incivility that greeted us in a meeting. What I want to say about this is that it didn’t come free of charge; on the contrary, it was very costly. I’ve spent years being bludgeoned by the response to my own expectations. When I’ve looked for a twinkle in the eye of the approval of man, what I’ve met has been the opposite. And why? Am I repulsive? No. Am I off-putting? Not by all appearances. So what is the reason for this negative visceral response? I am His!

Now I’m not saying, “People only hate me because I am a chosen one and they’re just jealous.” And I’m certainly not saying it’s a position I would’ve chosen. After all, I went looking for that twinkle of delight for years. I’m saying that my story’s Author is to blame!

Approval of Man, A Harlot and A Lover

Approval of man A Whore and A Lover
And I’m in good company with a whore and a lover. The harlot is Gomer from the book of Hosea and the lover is the Shulamite maiden found in the Song of Songs. Each of them were annihilated into their position of being loved. Let me show you how.

Gomer was an outright whore for the affections and attention of her earthly lovers. She attributed to them her strength, sustenance, and supply. Hosea actually had to purchase her back from the slavery of her harlotry. Gomer’s name means “completion,” that is, the filling up of the measure of idolatry, or ripeness of wickedness. This reminds me of Matthew 23:32, where Christ says to the Pharisees, “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.” A ‘whoa’ statement for sure. Gomer, like us, goes running about chasing others to give her what she already had: a Husband who loved her. But she had to fill up the measure of her idolatry or come to the end of her path.

Therefore, this is what I will do: I will block her way with thorns; I will enclose her with a wall, so that she cannot find her paths. She will pursue her lovers but not catch them; she will seek them but not find them. Then she will think,” I will go back to my former husband, for then it was better for me than now.”
Hosea 2:6-7 HCSB

It was the Lord Himself who hedged her in with thorns. Thorns are sharp and piercing, kind of like the scorn, derision and disgust I’ve received when chasing love.

Approval of Man A Whore and A Lover
Then there’s the Shulamite maiden who was a true lover. She exclusively sought after her beloved and not other lovers, but her path was laden with the strictures of exclusivity. She had to be separated from all that would distract her, even herself, with her doubts and fears. And when she looked to another to show her the way to her beloved, they struck her.

The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my cloak, those watchmen of the walls!
Songs 5:7 NIV

The Lord’s jealousy is a fierce thing. His passion is not always soft, at times it’s violent. What I’ve learned in my life is that I cared more about what others thought than I cared for God’s pleasure. And what is the approval of man but a fleeting and fickle opinion? I worried and fretted about their perceptions rather than being concerned with His. I looked to others to affirm my person, and what I met was the Lord’s fire and love. I was pummeled rather than affirmed, struck rather than stroked.

Why would my loving God do this? Because to be wholly God’s you mustn’t pander or curry the approval of man. He beat the care out of me so I would have one allegiance and a single eye. You can’t be a lover of God or even His servant if you indulge man’s right of refusal.

Approval of man: I Don’t Care Anymore

Approval of Man: I Don't Care Anymore, I'm FREE
At the meeting Jennifer described, I went in with a goal in mind, which I believe I got from God. My goal was met and it didn’t matter what spitballs were shot at me; I was a man with a mission. I didn’t need them to like me or care about me, because I was there for God. I was catering to His desire in the moment, and I didn’t care about the rest.

As I said earlier, this immunity didn’t come without a high cost. I have been a man who cared, yet I have become one who doesn’t. In this meeting wasn’t rude or entitled with these guys, I was just focused on my goal. By all appearances, you’d have thought I was the most pleasant person. I was simply there for Another and not myself. God has sufficiently beaten the care out of me, so I’m focused on His favor and His approval. May I maintain this focus in all my dealings! There I’d be utterly free, without compromise, and more faithful to my Beloved.

Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 AMP

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    • tammy

      “…may the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
      To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

      This I believe to be an answered prayer in your life John. Bless you for sharing.

      It is my prayer to one day recognize so clearly God’s “goal” in my life that I will be shaken by no one else’s thoughts or opinions.

      In His Love.

    • Sandy

      “Ribbit!” Said one frog to another! 😛

      Fear of rejection just seems to be the core of us…
      And another thought I just had was, don’t we end up rejecting others just as much as we fear that same rejection?!…

      Well, it’s a great relief to know He’s chasing us down! To the very end…

      May we all continue in His love!

    • Sam

      A delightful and powerful story of liberation. In solitude and pain we find our liberation. At the end we cannot serve two masters. Either we serve God or riches. And the word says… “either we detest one and love the other”. Either we love men´s approval or love God.

      And what a test it is…

      Love you bro.

    • Pauline

      Thank you, John. I praise God for “beating the care out of [you].” Can’t honestly say I’m in that camp yet.
      Reminds me of something Leonard Ravenhill once said: “If we displease God, does it matter whom we please? If we please Him, does it matter whom we displease?”

    • Marsela

      Wow John, praise the Lord!

      “For who the Son sets free, he is free indeed”
      The only Person in the entire Universe that is utterly, truly free, is The Lord Jesus Christ!
      Man has fought for freedom all throughout history, and still does… but the only freedom he ever achieves is merely an outward one. Man sought the wrong kind of freedom from the garden…. and in his desire to be ” free”, become a slave, a captive, a prisoner. A prisoner of his own desires, of his own ego, a captive of the approval of man.
      True freedom is an inward one, and unless the One Who Himself is free, makes you such, one will always be a prisoner, a captive, never free.
      Oh how I marvel at The Lord Jesus, who is like Him? Immovable when they rejected Him, immovable when they praised Him, immovable to act, at His own mother’s request ( whom He loved ), the wedding…., immovable at the request of his whole family, “….and who is my mother and my brothers”? … simply immovable. And the mere mortals can teach me what freedom is? and tell me how “free” they are?
      He lived before the audience of One! And He alone is our only hope of glory!
      ” For the Spirit of The Lord is upon Me…..I’ve come to set the captives free…”
      He doesn’t make us free, He Himself is the freedom inside of us! ” For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. Glory!!!

      • Irene

        “He doesn’t make us free, He Himself is the freedom inside of us!” Yes, yes, yes! So good Marsela.

      • Sam

        Amen, Marsela.

    • Irene

      “I was simply there for Another and not myself.” Those words are the ones that struck me.

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