There is an innate desire in every one of us to be approved. Whether it is at home, at work, in Church or within any setting we find ourselves, there is always that desire in us to get the nod from others, regarding the things we have done. This is not necessarily a bad thing because after all, if we are commended for doing good, it motivates us to want to do better. 

The problem comes however when the tide changes and the same people who approved us and said things that made us feel good, no longer see the great things they lauded us for but rather start focusing on our short comings.

The first recorded miracle of Jesus was at Cana in Galilee (John 2) We don’t know whether the couple was a relation or not but we know that Mary, Jesus’ mother was there and that Jesus Himself was invited as well as His disciples. At some point during the wedding, Mary came to Jesus and told him, ‘They have no more wine’. We are not told why she came to him but it was obvious that she knew He had the power to make something happen.  

What is interesting was Jesus’ response, “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” Every time I read this, I pause and wonder why Jesus appeared quite reluctant to accede to His mother’s request. What is more interesting though was Mary’s reaction. She turned to the servants and told them, “Do whatever he tells you”. The servants did exactly that and the day was saved with better quality wine replacing the one that got finished

Fast forward to John 2:23. Many who had witnessed Jesus’ miracles began to believe in his name. That’s a good thing isn’t it? They approved of what Jesus did, believed in Him and probably spoke about Him to others. However, verse 24-25 tells us a different story about Jesus’ reaction to the people. “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man”

Jesus was wary about their trust in Him because He knew what was in their hearts. He knew how fickle the approval of man could be. He knew that one week people would be shouting, “Hosannah in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” and one week later scream with frenzy, “Crucify Him!”

There is no doubt that Social media has impacted the lives of many today. People post various things about themselves both real and imagined, true and untrue. They are happy when people ‘like’ their posts or comment positively about them. The problem with this trend is that when their posts do not receive any response or ‘likes’, they feel disappointed and there have been many reported cases of people going into depression as a result of not getting the expected responses to their profiles or posts online.

Let’s face it, we all like it when people pat our backs for a job well done. We love it and we bask in the good feeling of being the centre of approval. Conversely, none of us likes to be the one to be blamed for mistakes made or things going wrong. From my experience, one could move between the two states within a very short period of time. This was why Jesus was wary about trusting the people around Him. He knew the heart of man and how easy it is for people’s perception of you to change based on current events.

Paul the Apostle was one person who never bothered with seeking the approval of man. Right from the beginning of his conversion, he faced suspicion and criticism from others but that did not deter him. When writing to the Galatians in chapter 1 verse 10, he said, “You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant”. Before his conversion, he was eager to please the religious leaders by seeking the approval to arrest Christians and bring to them Jerusalem as prisoners. From the moment he encountered the Lord however, the source of his desire to be approved changed from man to God.

Are you feeling let down by others whom you thought would say something good about you? Are you sad because you did something that someone would have given you kudos for but they didn’t? You need to change your perspective. Seeking the approval of men may feel nice when we are showered with accolades but when the same people who gave us thumbs up for a job well done, later on lead the charge to condemn you, it hurts deeply.

How then can we get sincere and long lasting approval for the things we do? The answer is in Colossians 3:23, “Work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not merely for your masters”. I believe the same principle applies in other areas of life where we serve such as in the church, community or family.

When the aim of everything we do is to please God, it does not matter what response or the lack of it we get from men, the ultimate approval is that God is pleased with us.