We all crave approval. Whether we’re wading through Instagram comparing our unfiltered lives to someone else’s filtered feed or building our own Facebook streak with friends, most if not all of us are ultimately looking for someone to accept us. Hence, our appetite for approval creeps in.
Seeking approval and validation from people leads us to raising questions about ourselves like “Am I good enough?” “Do I have what it takes?” or “Will anyone like me if they know the real me?” The underlying problem with these questions, and with our pursuit of seeking approval from others, is that we’re looking for approval in all the wrong places.
We use the number of likes we get as if they are the stats about how many people actually like us in real life. We use the plethora of followers we have on social media to find our popularity ranking. We look for validation and approval from our friends and our families, even from the people we barely even know, and we start thinking that if we can just get higher grades, find more friends, achieve that washboard abs or that Korean dewy skin, be better at sports, travel more this year, that more people will accept and approve of us.
Looking for approval in the wrong places isn’t something new to the world we live in. And if it’s worth any consolidation and comfort, people all throughout the Bible struggled with caring more about what people thought of them than what God actually did. As a matter of fact, God created us from the beginning with an appetite for approval. God created all the appetites we have, thing is, when sin entered into our world, it destroyed every little good thing God created for us to enjoy. More so, those appetites that God created yet were destroyed by sin, it is Him that could only fill and satisfy.
So, the real question we have to start asking ourselves is: Do I care more about what people think of me than what God knows about me?
Here’s the thing: trying to please people is a perilous trap. You’ll never please everyone and you’ll never get everyone to like you. But, when we choose to accept what God says about us—that we are His masterpiece, that we are His child, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by His own hands—we get to be liberated from trying to gain temporary approval from people and to start enjoying the permanent identity we have in Christ.
When we’re constantly trying to seek approval from people, we’re missing out on what pleases God. Because God doesn’t look at the things people look at. In fact, the more we try to gain the approval from the world, the less we’ll see the approval we can receive from God.
We all need to know that as a follower of Jesus, you don’t have to look for the approval of others because you’re already approved by God (by grace through faith in Christ alone). Really there is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less. Thus, instead of living for the approval of people, we can all start living from the approval of God (through Jesus).
How do we find then our approval in Christ when it seems like there are so many other places to find it?
For us to know what God says about us, we have to be in God’s Word. So that the next time you find yourself thinking that you’re not good enough, or that you don’t have what it takes, and no one will like the authentic you, remind yourself that those are lies straight from the enemy. And the only way to beat a lie is to replace it with truth.
The truth is that Satan’s goal is to steal, kill, and destroy your life by trying to tell the opposite of what God says about you. The Bible calls him the father of lies. But God, from the beginning of time, desperately wants you to know that you are His child, and you are of immense value to Him. The Bible says He is the Truth. So doesn’t that make sense that the father of lies would want to snatch us away from the God of all Truth?
Now what does that look like in our daily lives? Perhaps it means limiting the time you spend on social media to prevent yourself from falling into the comparison trap again. Maybe it means serving others so that you become less focused on yourself and start seeing people the way Jesus does. Perhaps, for you, it means reminding yourself of whose are you—that you belong to Jesus—that’s your identity and no enemy can snatch you away from the love and grace of Christ.
Whatever it looks like for you, I pray that you develop a game plan to beat the approval trap (next we’re going to talk about the comparison trap) because being consumed by what people say about you makes you forget what God knows about you, and that’s the least bit God wants for His child to focus on.