Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 24, 2018
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
I went cold turkey. May, 2017, I turned off my work email on my phone the day I left for vacation and I have not turned it back on since. It does help that my executive assistant Patti checks my email when I am out of the office and texts or calls me about any urgent matter she can’t handle (the times this has happened I can count on one hand). Happily, my mental and emotional margin was reinstated and my ability to focus on the present pronounced. My fear of disappointing people was replaced with the satisfaction of resting in Christ’s approval. My pride was starved from seeking impossible self-satisfaction and my humility fed by God’s acceptance.
In the Galatians passage above, Paul gets to the heart of approval addiction by using questions to flush out our motives. Is our desire and drive—to please our fellow human beings or to please the One who created us? If our approval default is people, very bluntly he says, “I would not be a servant of Christ”. What? Wow! If our volunteer service in the church is for the pleasure of people’s accolades, our shallow service does not rise to reflect our devout service for the Lord.
Jesus said, “Everything they [Pharisees] do is done for show. They act holy by wearing on their arms little prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and by lengthening the memorial fringes of their robes. And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the reserved pews in the synagogue! How they enjoy the deference paid them on the streets and to be called ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Master’! Don’t ever let anyone call you that. For only God is your Rabbi and all of you are on the same level, as brothers” (Matthew 23:5-8, TLB).
C.S. Lewis illustrates, “The pleasure of pride is like the pleasure of scratching. If there is an itch, one does want to scratch, but it is much nicer to have neither the itch nor the scratch. As long as we have the itch of self-regard, we shall want the pleasure of self-approval. But the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither but have everything else: God, our fellow humans, animals, the garden, and the sky instead. (Collected Letters, 3:429)
So, as we serve in the Spirit’s power, we do not strive or promote ourselves, but we quietly give. We resist social media self promotion and we listen for the Lord’s approval, “well done my child, I will always love and accept you”. Our soul’s itch for approval and acceptance can only find relief and refreshment from Jesus’ intimate scratch of love. Stunningly, His perfect love joyfully embraces imperfect lovers like us. Why bow to the vibration of an incoming email, when we can worship at the feet of the eternal Word—Jesus. By God’s grace, I am a recovering email addict.
“That’s why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other men, longing to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God” (John 5:44, The Voice).
Heavenly Father, empower my service with You and for You, by Your love and acceptance, in Jesus’ name, amen.
What unhealthy technology habits do I need to adjust, so I starve my pride and feed my humility?
Our soul’s itch for approval can only find relief from Jesus’ intimate scratch of love. #WisdomHunters #emailaddict
3 minutes- Jeremy Camp: Word of Life
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