For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 ESV
The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, makes this imperative in the context of preaching the gospel. But this tendency to seek man’s approval over God’s can be so far-reaching and subtle — and dangerous.
Do all things without grumbling and disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:14-18 ESV
My attitude matters. The words that come out of my mouth (or the words typed on Facebook and Twitter) matter. If I cannot find the good, if my “bent” is to see what I don’t like, what I don’t have — it truly does have a greater effect than my being labeled “a gloomy Gus”
Am I saying that we should be a saccharine Pollyanna type, with always a “well, bless her pea-picken’ heart” fake happy? Absolutely not! That kind of guile and flattery is seeking the approval of man rather than God. God wants honesty. God wants truth.
But what if the “truth” is not happy? What if life is hard, or disappointing? What if I don’t get what I want?
Elisabeth Elliott said at one point, “it is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than resentful for what is withheld. One or the other will become a pattern of life.”
I am learning to be thankful in my current circumstances. Even on high pain days, God’s nearness is constant. He truly gives me the strength that I need to endure what He allows. When my brain needs rest, God gives patience. When I cannot focus to read or study, the Holy Spirit brings to my mind the Word I have memorized, so I am never without His Word.
Oh, how aware I am that I can malign the gospel message by a grumbling and complaining attitude! Ingratitude and resentment say, “you didn’t treat me right; I didn’t get what I deserve; you are holding out on me.” Gratitude and thankfulness say, “God, I trust You. Though I may not see it now, I believe that You are at work. You have my highest good in mind, and Your glory is what I desire.”
How can I ask anyone to trust Jesus as their Savior if I won’t trust him with my life?