Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Yesterday’s topic of seeking the approval of people needs more unpacking. The Apostle Paul understands that we need to know our value. We need to know that we are approved. The problem is that we seek value and approval in the wrong places. Humanity cannot provide what human nature needs. As created beings, only our Creator can supply what we need to be complete.
Paul knew that our nature seeks approval from people so we can declare ourselves to have value. But true value can only come from the approval of God through Jesus Christ. If our hearts are set on seeking the approval of people then we will always need more value. But when our hearts embrace the approval of God, we lack no value.
Paul knew that the key to running the spiritual race assigned to us by Christ is to keep our hearts firmly fixed on Christ and the coming glory of His presence. If our sense of personal worth shifts from an eternal perspective to an earthly one then we will struggle to endure the circumstances and the people of this life. But when we live in the approval of God through Jesus Christ, with our value defined by eternity, then with thanksgiving we will live to please God and not man.
Here’s how Paul describes it in one of the letters he wrote to the church at Corinth. I like the way Eugene Peterson expresses the truth of this passage in his paraphrase called The Message.
2 Corinthians 5:1-14 “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.”
God’s love has given us the value of Jesus, and granted us eternal approval. There’s no need to look anywhere else.