Matthew 6:33
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

The desire to feel like you belong, that you are accepted and that you have the approval of others is powerful. In some sense it is as though the desire to sit at the cool kids table in the middle school cafeteria never goes away. As we get older the only difference is that the context changes. In adult life we want to feel that same sense of belonging in newfound academic, professional, and community settings.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to belong, after all, God is the one Who hard wired us for relationships and community, the problem comes when we place the approval of others before God’s approval of us.

When I consider Biblical examples of people who had to decide whose affirmation they were going to seek, God’s or man’s, Joshua readily comes to mind.

Many of us are at least partially familiar with his story. You know the one… where the great walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Now, while we may know a few catchy elementary tunes regarding this story, think with me for a minute about the realty of the situation.

Joshua was in charge of Israel; he was their military commander. He also had the monumental task leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The land they had waited 40 years (from the time of the Exodus) to conquer. With this backdrop in mind, I’m sure Joshua was all ears when God began to disclose His battle plan.

I can just picture Joshua eagerly anticipating the bold and fearless strategy that the Lord would unveil. But, then it happened. God rolled out His plan and it must have sounded like a joke. Really? Walk around the city once a day for six days and on the seventh day walk around the city seven time, have the priests blow trumpets and watch the walls come falling down? Could anything have sounded more ridiculous or illogical?

In that moment Joshua had a choice. Was he going to seek the approval of God or man? Joshua chose well.

He understood that putting the approval of man before the approval of God comes with a cost.

Putting everything on the line, Joshua chose to seek God’s approval knowing full well that if God didn’t come through He would fail and consequently let an entire nation down. Can you imagine the conversation Joshua had with his subordinate military leaders when he filled them in on their marching orders? I would have loved to have heard that one!

Think about how the story may have turned out if Joshua had rejected God’s plan and instead pursued his own tactics. While he may have immediately been praised by man he would have lost out on seeing the power of God at work in his life. The same is true for us.  Additionally, in the end the nation of Israel would have suffered as a result of his choice.  All decisions come with consequences.

While you may not be a military commander, just like Joshua, we all have a choice to make. Are we going to seek the approval of man or God?

The apostle Paul could relate to this struggle. In Galatians 1:10 he writes, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Each one of us must decide whose approval we are going to seek.

There may be times when God will ask you to do something that seems illogical, or to believe truth that is contrary to the trends of the day. The cost of going against the crowd can be great, but the cost of not following God wholeheartedly is so much greater.

Don’t lose out, seek God’s approval for your life above all else.

In what way might you need to readjust your priorities and put God’s approval of you first?

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