On Where we go With our Need for Approval

I’m enjoying reading “A Million Little Ways” at the moment – a book for difference-makers, however you make that difference. It’s about not restricting art to the painters or the writers, but thinking of everything we do in our life as art. It’s about looking at our lives and the desires God’s placed within us. I’m currently about halfway through, and in this chapter, Emily talks about our desire for approval.

It struck me as I thought about it that perhaps seeking approval is part of our makeup, but the important thing is where we go with that. There’s a story about King David, and a phrase within it I often think back to. David was having one of those very human, knocking-knees sort of moments. God had already proved He had big plans for David’s future – kingship to be exact, but King Saul wanted to keep the throne in his family. Twice Saul had unknowingly succeeded in his pursuit of David, but David wouldn’t allow his men to kill Saul when they caught him off-guard. “The LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed,” he said (1 Samuel 26:11), but after these close calls, fear set in.

“Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul,” said David in his heart (1 Samuel 27:1), and he went into hiding – to enemy territory. He lived with the Philistines and found such favour with a member of their royal family that Achish said he would appoint David his bodyguard for life (1 Samuel 28:2). David and his men settled in Ziklag – a city in the countryside, and one day when they returned from the battlefield, they found it overthrown by a foreign nation. Their wives and children, including David’s two wives, had been taken captive and they were grief-stricken. They did what tragically we do so often – blamed their leader, and even talked about stoning David. If ever anyone needed approval, surely it was at that point. Poor David’s without both his wives and without the respect of his men, and what does he do? Here’s the phrase: “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:1-6).

God knows we’re desperate for approval. I think that’s why He’s put so many reassurances in the Bible. “The LORD will give favour and glory, for no good thing will He withhold from the one who walks uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You attend to him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:4-5). It’s one of those amazing divine paradoxes: God honours those He created to honour Him. “Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth, even everyone who is called by My name, for I have created him for My glory” (Isaiah 43:6-7), so when we need approval, let’s go to God for it. Let’s encourage ourselves in His Word, and let our lives give Him glory.

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