‘How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?’ John 5.44
It is probably true that we all seek the praise or approval of others. We want to be liked and we want to know that we are appreciated for what we do. The danger is that we can become caught up in a never-ending surge of activity to find other people’s approval anew, and if we do not find it we can find ourselves in a pit of despair and self-doubt.
It is important to do good to others, but in this verse Jesus warns against us seeking to find our identity in the approval of others; his encouragement is for us to find our approval from God. What is startling about this statement is that it confirms that God already
approves of us.
For some people, the constant quest to seek the approval of others is precisely because they are not certain of God’s approval. Jesus bids us to stop thinking in that way and find his approval first, and then let our actions flow from that.
Take this verse and use it to seek to catch God’s love, approval and desire for you: ‘I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me’ (Song of Songs 7.10). What more approval could you possibly want?
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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