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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5-Minute Friday: Small

I wrote this post and then discovered it fitted with Lisa-Jo’s “5-Minute Friday” theme for this week.  Yea!  If you want to join in, why not click over to her blog and see how it works?

 

I was reading 2 Samuel 10 today, and it really touched me; it’s such a sad story.  What happens is, a king dies – one who’s been very loyal to King David, so David sends some of his representatives to the man’s son to sympathise with him.  David wanted to show kindness to the son because of his father’s loyalty.  Where have we heard that before?  David showed kindness to his friend Jonathan’s son because of a promise he’d made.  I guess this would have been known throughout the surrounding countries because Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, should have been the heir to the throne.  Any other king might have killed him, but David kept his vow to his friend and not only spared his life, but honoured him too.

So, back to the story.  David’s representatives go to the king’s son and instead of thinking the best of David, instead of looking at his track record and welcoming them, his advisors say:  “Do you really think he’s done this to honour your father?  No, he’s sent these people as spies,” and they humiliate the men and send them away.

When they realise their mistake and how angry it’s made David, they prepare to go into battle.  David’s men win, so when the enemy regroup, they bring in more troops for another battle.  Seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers are killed (v18).  Seven hundred charioteers and forty thousand foot soldiers?  Such loss of life, all because one person was mistrusted.  No one stepped back and said:  “Hang on a minute,” and tried to work things out.

I was struck by the stupidity of it all.  I’m sure if you looked at other wars throughout the centuries and the final straw that set them off, it’d be just as small, and maybe some of the relationships in your life aren’t what they should be because a past misunderstanding’s getting in the way.  So what are you fighting for?  And is it really worth it?

Thankful

This morning I read my usual devotional E-mail but wasn’t sure what else to read.  I saw a couple of things about Psalm 55 so thought I would have a look at that.

 

The beginning talks about how David’s enemies treated him terribly and held angry grudges.  (Haven’t we all been there?)  Then he went on to say what really bothered him:  It was his close friend who was against him.  “We enjoyed being together, and we went with others to your house, our God. …  His words were smoother than butter, and softer than olive oil.  But hatred filled his heart, and he was ready to attack with a sword” – Psalm 55:14, 21.

 

Verse 14 made me stop and think.  What would that be like – to have my close friend, someone I trust, the one I go to church with, turn against me?  I was so grateful I wasn’t experiencing that.  My first reaction was to say:  “Lord, don’t let what happened to King David happen to me”, but then I remembered:  It happened even to Jesus when He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, and Jesus says no student is greater than his teacher (Luke 6:40).

 

We don’t know what’s ahead in our futures, but let’s thank God for the here-and-now.