Whose Approval Are You Seeking?
It is amazing how desperate man is for the approval and acceptance of others. So many times, we feel the need to be affirmed and validated and to have our work seen as noble and acceptable. We think that somehow the results of our work gives us the right to lay claim to our own worth. When in reality, people's opinions matter very little in what is actually appropriate and acceptable. Real success is measured by God's work through us, our obedience to God's work, and our faithfulness to His work.
First, real success is measured by God's work through us. Paul addresses this idea with those at the church in Corinth in I Corinthians 2-4. He starts off in chapter 2 reminding those in Corinth that when he first came to them teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ, that it was not done with eloquence or with great knowledge. So many times, we try to justify success based on the polish or professionalism of something that we do. When in reality, Paul points out what really matters is the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and His power in what was done. We should not fall into the temptation of evaluating our actions with unreasonable expectations. Rather, we should look to the person of the Holy Spirit and His development and transformation of the believer at His rate and His time.
Second, real success is measured by our obedience to His work. In chapter 3, Paul addresses that we need not focus on the outcome to justify success. In verses 4-8, Paul points out that each Christian serves the purpose that God desires. He uses the example of himself and Apollos in regards to their witness. Just because Paul planted the gospel and Apollos watered does not make one more of a success than another. It is God that brings the increase and does the work. If we are submissive to His desire, then no matter the results, all are seen as a success.
The final area that Paul addresses is that success is measured by the faithfulness of God's people to His work. In chapter 4, Paul points out that we should not judge success based on the great works of other men and women around us, but by our own faithfulness to God and His work. God is the one who appoints us and leads us in His work in accordance to His plan. Sometimes that work is met with obstacles and what appears to be, by human standards, a failure. While at other times, there are great results and blessings that are afforded to us for our faithfulness. In verse 7, Paul makes this plain by pointing out that everything is received from God and not by human efforts.
When you look at your efforts in life, don't fall to the temptation of judging your success based on the abilities you have or the results of what has been done. Instead, look at your level of submission, obedience, and faithfulness to the One who is actually doing the work and have confidence that He is producing exactly what He desires through your efforts.
Written by Andy Horner