Dying for Approval?

Published July 6, 2016 by Dawn

Laziness never pays. I know this from years of experience … My own experiments with laziness have only yielded negative results, and this last one had a tremendous effect. I decided that instead of getting up before the sun yesterday to beat the heat, I’d just run when I finally woke up on my own. Big mistake. I woke up when the sun was well into its path noon-ward and messed around for a bit before going running. When I finally laced up and headed out, it was so hot and muggy!

I ran my first mile without stopping, all the while gradually feeling the effects of the steadily increasing temperature pulling the moisture from the ground. I felt like I was drowning from the humidity. I’m almost to the point where I can run two miles without stopping, but yesterday, I took a few minutes to walk after the first mile so I could focus on breathing. When I started running again, my legs were on fire and the heat was suffocating me. I decided to run at intervals. Walk a few minutes, run a few minutes to complete my second mile. It was pure torture. I turned toward home and kept up the rotations until I got there.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t see a whole lot of people out and about while I ran. I did see a few, though, and I felt really self-conscious. I ran with pride past those who were near while I was running. But I wondered if those who saw me walking wondered why I was working up such a stink while I ran. Why is she out of breath and covered in sweat? Sure seems like a lot of effort to walk her dog …

I was really caught up in this thought process yesterday when the Lord said to me, Some people see you running and some see you walking. They each have their own thoughts and opinions about it, and all of them are wrong.

Whoa. That seriously stopped me in my tracks. This is about so much more than running. It’s about life. Here’s the thing:

Some people are going to see you running. They’re going to see you putting all your effort into life and they are going to see you succeeding. Those people might think something of you. They might make a big deal out of your effort and share in the pride moment with almost as much gusto as you do. Others will only see you walk. They might only see you struggle. They might see the sweat and wonder why you’re all worked up because walking looks so easy. They may not understand what you’ve been through and all they have is a critical eye cast in your direction.

Both of these groups of people are wrong.

The group that sees you running might not ever see you struggle. They might never see you slow to a crawl or gasp for breath. They might never see you losing. They will think more of you than they ought and cause you to think more of yourself than you ought.

The group that only sees you walking will never know the willpower you possess as you press forward in sheer determination to make it to that certain mark before you agree to let yourself slow down. They might never see you encouraging yourself to keep going. They might never see you fighting flesh to press on toward the mark. And they might judge where you are based on their presumptive knowledge and not know the amazing things happening inside you as your muscles slowly build to take on tougher and tougher challenges.

Both of these groups are wrong!

Paul once asked the Galatians, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people” (Gal. 1:10)? I feel like so many of us are caught up in this performance trap of wanting everyone to see us running. We don’t want to admit it’s ever too much for us. We don’t want people to know about those times we have to slow down to a crawl and suck wind to keep from passing out. We are literally dying for the approval of people that – get this – probably don’t even notice us. And if they do, they notice us while we’re walking and refuse to run alongside us. Let me liberate you right now: ALL of these people, whether they are with you or against you – ALL OF THEM – are wrong about you. Their opinions don’t matter. Not the one, and not the other. One will make you think more of yourself than you ought and the other will make you think less of yourself than you ought. Take it from Paul; the only opinion that matters is God’s.

This is where most people get lost. I am not saying you should stand up and loudly proclaim, “Only God can judge me!” If you call yourself a Christian, that’s hogwash. I don’t know who came up with that but it wasn’t someone who’s actually read the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul expands on this topic of judgement and says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). Accountability to the church family is in line with biblical doctrine and is a part of being accountable to God. We are encouraged to uplift one another, encourage one another and yes, even admonish one another. Not in condemnation and pride, but in love. But even then, ultimately, it is God who matters. It is His standards, given to us through scriptures, discerned through the Holy Spirit, that should stand alone as the utmost authority in our lives. His opinion of us is the only one that matters. The only one we should allow to motivate us. How does our walk, or our run, measure up in God’s eyes?

Are you now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?

 

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