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
John ended his last post with this verse, but I want to open with it. This verse can so easily be skimmed past because we all know what it means to seek the approval of man, don’t we? I find myself wondering if we do. This uncomplicated scripture goes deeper than I’m comfortable with and I bet I have some company. What does it mean to love the world and seek its approval?
Obvious Pursuit of Approval
An easy interpretation of God’s call for us to “love not the world” looks at our basic loyalty to God. Do I acknowledge Jesus Christ in front of the people in my life? Or do I hide my light under a bushel because I’m worried about what people will say? Do I speak when the Spirit asks me to speak? Or do I keep quiet because I can’t bear the thought of being disliked or even hated by the friends and family God has given me?
The test of loyalty to God is closely related to the test of holiness. If God asks us to give something up or let someone go, will we do it? Do we surrender to take up the daily cross of sanctification, becoming ever more completely His? Or do we draw a line in the sand, saying, “This far and no further!” because we love the world more than God? I think we’re all pretty familiar with this one.
In reading John’s testimony, though, the Holy Spirit showed me a deeper level of eschewing the approval of man for the pleasure of God. All the outward signs of loving the world represent the tip of the iceberg only. Our pursuit of the world is much more pervasive than we see.
The Hidden Pursuit of Approval
If I smile at a stranger and they don’t smile back, am I hurt or irritated in response? If so, I love the world. If I spend hours thinking up and picking out a gift for a loved one and their reaction is tepid, am I offended or wounded? If so, I love the world. If I give money to a person in need and they’re not grateful, do I get angry or indignant? If so, I love the world.
Every time that I want something from somebody or expect something from them or look to them to provide me with something I need or want, I am in hot pursuit of the world. Love of the world doesn’t just apply to my so-called spiritual life; it covers every inch of my entire life. Every hidden motive and intention that fuels my words and my deeds and my thoughts reveals the extent to which I pursue the approval of man.
Given all of this, John’s testimony of God is that much more incredible to me. God addressed every hidden motive, every wounded motive, every fearful motive and would NOT allow the world to give John a shallow, half-baked approval when what he needed was the fathomless Love of God to heal his heart. That healing love is what we all need! And God would be a strange Father indeed if He encouraged His children to chase a placebo when the medicine is freely and abundantly provided.