Summary: Refusing to Live For Man’s Applause Living Only for God’s Approval
The Approval of One
Proverbs 12:2 “A good man obtaineth favor of the Lord: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”
Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
How many of you have ever played a recital piece? You probably will never forget your first recital: sweaty hands, sinking sensation in your stomache, involuntary trembling, but a determination to do your best.
I’ll never forget playing a piano piece for a Christmas program on the mission field in Haiti. I was around 9 or 10 years old. I practiced for weeks. Over 500 people came to that Christmas program. But as I played, I had one question in my mind. What did my mother think of my performance? I glanced up for a moment to see my mother’s expression. In that moment, I saw all I needed to know. She was pleased. She was happy. In the middle of 500 people, I looked for the approval of one.
This morning, I’d like to talk to you about the approval of One. ---
William Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…” Have you ever felt like you are on stage, the stage of life performing for the audience all around you? I have often felt the pressure and the pull of performing on life’s stage. I’m certain that you have also felt that pressure. -- “What do my coworkers think of my work performance? What do my classmates think of my academic skills? What does my church think about my Christian walk? From the world’s point of view, a good appearance- a good show is the only thing that matters. If we’re not careful, life morphs into a stage, every man and woman- the actors.
We become addicted to approval. We live from day to day allowing our emotions to swing based on what others think of us. We spend our lives foolishly trying to please the crowd and live for the approval of man. There is a tyranny and a bondage in living for man’s approval. Henry Swope said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure which is: “Try to please everybody.”
This morning, I would like to set a different standard before you, the Scriptural standard. Instead of living in bondage, craving the approval of everyone around us, the Bible calls us to live for the approval of One. The Apostle Paul said, “Am I trying to live for the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul realized that it is impossible to fully please man and God at the same time.
The Scriptures call us again and again not to live for the expectations of man, but for the satisfaction of God. I Thess. 2:4, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” I Thess. 4:1, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
We live for the applause of One. There is nothing better or more fulfilling to know that God says, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Can anything compare to having the smile of God’s approval?----
Let’s look at some heroes of the faith who lived entirely for God’s favor.
Come with me to the dawn of time. God’s majestic creation was only a few years old, but it was tainted by the curse of sin. A clearing comes into view. The trees and briars have been cleared from this field. Two rugged men stand on both sides of the clearing. Each of them has an altar before him. Each of them has made a sacrifice to God. Cain offered the fruits of the soil. Abel offered one of his precious lambs. Cain rebelled against God’s standard of animal sacrifice, but Abel obeyed completely giving one of his precious lambs. The New International Version of the Bible tells us that “The Lord looked with favor upon Abel and his offering.”
This was the first time in history that the Bible tells God looked with favor upon a man. God was pleased with Abel, and Abel rested under the smile of God’s approval. “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings…” Heb 11 ------