“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men?”
Early this morning, I was wrestling with God when He started to give me a new perspective on one of my life verses. This verse from Galatians, had always inspired me to consider–who do I work for? Do I strive for the success and approval of humans or of God?
Naturally the “godly” pastor response is that I should seek God’s approval. And this had motivated my life for the past 19 years as a Christ-follower to win God’s approval by diligent and faithful living. But at 4:45am this morning, God spoke a reality that goes far deeper than this immature understanding of this verse in Galatians.
He began to show me the fallacy of my plan. In the letter to Galatians, Paul never actually says we should “win God’s approval.” He asks the question rhetorically, and sadly for 19 years I have missed his point. If I am trying to win God’s approval then He is a much tougher audience than men. Why do I keep trying to jump up and down, do more stuff for Him, see more and more people come to “my” church, and earn God’s approval? In doing so I will wear myself out and wear myself down.
So as I wrapped up my prayer time, my heart longed to know I cannot win God’s approval…I literally wrote in my prayer journal, “Christ help me, help me to see your love today.”
Off I sped, a few minutes late to my workout. As we did a warmup lap, I noticed that someone had drawn a large chalk outline of a cross on the ground. And then as we continued the lap, I noticed another, and another. The Q had drawn 5 crosses. And our workout literally would entail doing exercises on these crosses.
With my face pressed into the chalk outline of God’s symbol of his love for me. It finally dawned on me–an answer to prayers, He was showing me His love–I cannot win God’s approval by working harder, longer and deeper than other pastors. I will never earn His love; but His death on the cross shouts loud and clear that God’s approval has been won for me.