. . . to get what you need from those who cannot give it?
When you and I try so hard to gain the approval of others, we fight a losing battle. It isn’t that the others will never give it. Some won’t, of course, but many will. People often do acknowledge extra effort and personal sacrifice. Sometimes the recognition is there and it feels good. Once in a while we get our “moment” in the spotlight.
No, the problem isn’t really in the rest of the world. The problem is in us. The world is not enough. The beautiful young model stands in front of the mirror and sees her imperfections. No matter how many people tell her that she is perfect and desirable, she sees herself differently. The successful businessman looks only to the next success, never back on the last one. The athlete sets goals for herself, but isn’t satisfied when she accomplishes them. The student receives a 100% on a hard test but wishes he could have done better. It is never enough.
And those who do stop the endless striving usually do so with a sense of resignation. They know, somehow, that it will never be good enough, so they just stop trying. It isn’t just not good enough; it just isn’t good.
I am as convinced as I am of anything in life that this world cannot give us what we need. There is no accomplishment, there are no words of approval, there is no beauty that will ever be enough. So, even if we are honored at work or at home or among our friends, it fails to satisfy. We try to explain it by saying that it doesn’t last, but the truth is that it failed almost right away. The secrets we hold inside, the things we see in the mirror, tell us that something is lacking.
We were made to seek approval, value, from the outside. No fellow sinner, nothing from this broken world, is good enough to tell us that we are good.
Only Someone who is perfect can pronounce us perfect. Only Someone unstained with what has stained us. Only Someone better and undamaged by the brokenness of our lives. Only Jesus.
I believe that most of us know this in our hearts. The only real approval can come from the Lord Himself. Until He says we are good, no amount of trying will make it so. Until He gives us rest, we will never stop trying.
That’s why we must help other believers understand what has been done for them and who they are in Christ. In order to be free from the search for approval among the people of this world, they have to see that they are already approved by the only One who can give them what they need. Sadly, the church has failed miserably at sharing this message. Too many churches tell people they must do certain things in order to be acceptable to God. Whether it is giving enough, working enough, sacrificing enough, smiling enough, or just being good enough—these churches put a barrier between the people of God and His approval. They force their people to seek approval from those who cannot give it.
But the message of the cross is that you and I are filled with the perfect life of Jesus Christ. His righteousness is ours. We are holy because He is holy. He has washed away all our sins: past, present, and future. We are, because of Him, as good as He is. He has made us good.
Finally, we are able to accept that we are accepted, believe that we are fully approved. It is contrary to the voice that has always been with us, but it rings true in so many ways and meets the real need of our hearts.
Jesus is enough for us.
Jesus has made us good.