Galatians 1:10, "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."
At age 26, Ken Elzinga joined the faculty of the University of Virginia. After a tenured colleague warned him that being explicit about his faith would hinder his career, Elzinga was stunned to see a flier with his face on it placed at a prominent campus location. A campus ministry had posted it to advertise a talk he had agreed to give.
A relatively new believer, Elzinga worried. Would fellow professors think less of him? Might this harm his tenure chances? He experienced a dark night of the soul, returning to campus and secretly taking the poster down. But the next morning, Elzinga put the poster back up. After hours of soul-searching, he concluded that his life was not about career ambition but about faithful discipleship, and that being private about his faith was not an option.
In the four decades since, Elzinga has been named professor of the year multiple times and is still a speaker in high demand. He will be the first to say that serving only one master has been liberating. Why? Because pleasing an audience of one makes us less anxious, less sensitive to criticism, and more courageous. Because in doing so, we become more secure and compete less for our honor. [Alec Hill, "The Most Troubling Parable," Christianity Today (July/August 2014)]
As someone said, "You can please some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time." If you are a people pleaser, as sometimes Christians tend to be, this fact can be incredibly disheartening. God frees us from the need to seek for approval from people. In seeking the approval of God alone we will gain—often times but not always—people's approval just by our courage and the good we do seeking God's approval. How liberating to only have to please an audience of One. Especially since, in Christ, we are already approved.
Prayer: Father, today we seek Your approval alone. We thank you that in Christ we have that approval and so today we will seek to do what pleases and makes You smile. Today we will seek for no greater good than hearing those precious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:23). In Jesus name, amen.
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