By Brooke Holt
“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
What drives your life? For far too long, my need to prove myself drove me. Due to my deep insecurity, I longed to impress people and to earn their approval. If they thought highly of me, maybe I could, too.
How much human approval did I need? Always more – I could not get enough, so I had to keep striving, performing, and working to win something I could never fully attain. The approval of people did not and could not fill my cup. I suspect it does not fill your cup either. Granted, it is nice and can feel good. But human approval will always leave us lacking, because you and I were made for more than human approval. We were made to need God’s approval.
Paul’s ministry epitomized what it means to seek God’s approval instead of human approval. As Paul worked heartily unto the Lord, many opponents sought to discredit his ministry. In this letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addressed the slander spoken against him, slander primarily from the religious Judaizers. These men accused Paul of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for personal gain. Paul refuted those accusations by reminding them of the intense persecution he faced in Phillipi. While there, Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Time in prison does not sound like personal gain!
Instead of preaching for personal gain, Paul preached the Gospel despite the persecution, hardships, and rejection of his own people (the Jews). Paul persevered because his ministry was driven by the desire to be faithful to God’s call on his life. Paul rested in God’s approval of his work and ministry, not in the approval of man. Therefore, his ministry continued with might and power.
Whose approval are you seeking today – God’s, your boss’s, your spouse’s, your children’s, your peers’, the staff’ at your church? You are only to seek the approval of one. The Lord calls you to break free from the need for human approval that you may seek his approval. As Paul said, the Lord is the one who tests our hearts. May you turn your heart to him, rest in his approval, and continue his mighty work!
Do your life, your works, and your words demonstrate your commitment to please God or to please man? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
How do you prepare your hearts for Christmas as you prepare your homes, meals, and gifts? Underneath all the busyness of Christmas lies the true purpose of the season – the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Hope-Peace-Love-Joy is a four-week Advent Study focused on preparing your hearts for the coming king. Start your day with a short devotional reading. Each week, an engaging video teaching from our authors, Marcia and Gilda, will lead you into discussion questions included in the small group study guide. This Advent season make some time to study, reflect, and discuss the significance of Jesus coming to dwell among his people. Invite some neighbors or your best friends to join you on this faith adventure. Make time to rekindle or renew your faith this Advent season.
See all our Advent resources here.
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