Approval Addiction

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
— Proverbs 29:25

The Bible is clear - seeking the praise and admiration of others is a trap.

So why do we continually stumble, and often gladly walk, into these poorly disguised snares? We have already been given a perfect identity; a priceless inheritance; a salvation secure and certain; and ultimate approval from the Lord of it all. But we continue to chase the things that we know are filled with dissatisfaction and disappointment. This obsession with the opinions of others can be the most alluring and deadly temptation we ever encounter.

For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.
— John 12:43

The embarrassing truth is that we walk into these traps, unforced and without encouragement, because we long to be praised by the people around us. As we approach opportunities to elevate our status or increase others’ admiration of us we think ‘this is the one that will satisfy’. We fervently believe our thirst for validation will be quenched and we’ll finally be content with who we are. But thousands of false horizons come and go and we’re still exactly where we started - desperate for the world’s approval.

We don’t need it.

Anything asserting otherwise is a lie designed to keep us under the boot of insecurity; looking to status, success and stuff to make us whole. These lies keep us from standing tall in an identity that’s already ours - bought at the cross and lovingly given by the ultimate life-giver. We are already complete, whole, fulfilled in Christ. We have His total approval, validation and adoration. Anything else we seek is a weak reflection of what we already have!

Our approval addiction often has the most innocuous beginnings. We expect to find ultimate contentment in our friendships, relationships, jobs and churches, but when we burden them with this expectation we become insecure and resentful because they never deliver like we thought they would. Even if this highly coveted, earthly praise actually arrives, after an initial warm contentedness we quickly cool and trudge on, thirstier than ever, becoming more and more dependent on a dry well.

No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honour each other, but you don’t care about the honour that comes from the one who alone is God.
— John 5:44

The consequence of being enslaved to this craving is devastating so we must put to death our desire for praise. When we choose to trust in Jesus, we give up the right to bask in, and chase glory for ourselves. We are no longer our own. We exist for the glory of another.

The transforming truth is that God is already pleased with us; such is the gift of salvation that when He looks at you and me, instead of seeing our own selfish and prideful brokenness, He sees His perfect Son. This reality evaporates the illusion that the world offers the things we need to be fulfilled and it liberates us from the cravings of our approval addiction.

The peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
— John 14:27

You don’t need to wait to be happily fulfilled. You don’t need one more compliment to believe that you might now be acceptable. You don’t need to shuffle along from disappointment to disappointment, desperate to arrive at the place you so long to be. Look up - you’re already there.

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