Obscurity: The Temptation of Applause.

Introduction:

Receiving applause, approval and recognition from others can sometimes seem like an addictive drug that in some cases becomes an addiction. People seek the approval of others and can become miserable or frustrated if someone doesn’t seem to approve of them in any way or for any reason. When that happens, people become anxious about the disapproval until they feel they are once again accepted. The problem is the outside approval they seek dictates their behavior. The only way to deal with this addiction is by seeking God’s approval instead of man’s approval. God wants our security to be in Him, not in things or other people. He is the only One we absolutely cannot do without.

Bottom Line: Live for God’s applause.

Something To Talk About:

Jesus had to battle against temptation. How He responded to Satan’s attempts to tempt Him in the desert can teach us a lot about how to beat the temptation we see on a daily basis. One of the most common temptations that we face as humans is the temptation to define our value by other people’s acceptance of us rather than by what God declares our value to be in Christ. There are so many times when this comes into play in our lives: we see other people’s approval or recognition and we are afraid of how people will view us.  We are concerned whether people will accept us. We can beat this temptation through three steps:

  1. Strength to detect a lie: First step is to stop believing the lie. We do not need to be insecure, or the person who seeks approval, who needs affirmation like one who needs a drug. We know that the truth is what sets us free, so we need to start believing in that truth. Instead of believing Satan’s lie that we need everyone’s approval to be happy and that our worth comes from the acceptance of others, we can rest in God’s truth that His approval is the only approval that we truly need. God sees me through the blood of His Son which was shed for me. His blood covers all my faults and sins and shortcomings and God sees me as perfect. If we are in Christ, if we love God and love others, then we have God’s full approval.
  2. Strength to stand on truth: We must choose to obtain our value and identity from God, not from people. This is the key to Jesus defeating Satan’s temptation in the desert, and the same can be true for us. Jesus’ identity was rooted in being the Son of God, and we know that we are also children of God. The true value of something is defined by two things: who made it and what people are willing to pay for it. We know that we were made by a perfect God and that He was willing to give up His Son to rescue us. That truth makes us far more valuable than anything the world attempts to throw at us. The only approval we need is from God. 
  3. Strength to conquer temptation: Our strength comes from God. As Christians, our audience is not the people around us, its God. We have an audience of one, our strength comes from one source. Instead of pretending to be who we’re not to get people’s approval, we can start making decisions based on who we are in Christ. To truly do this, we should try to step away from every situation, person, or place that would cause us to compromise our identity in Christ. The only approval that counts is the Lord’s approval, so we can stop living to get approval anywhere else. 2 Corinthians 10.18 says, “When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.”

Questions:

  1. What are some common ways that you see people trying to gain approval from those around them?
  2. What do you think the difference is between being affected by people’s opinions or being directed by their opinions?
  3. Talk about a time when your desire to be accepted caused you to compromise or make a poor choice. How do you think the truth of God’s acceptance can help you to act differently in the future?
  4. Read Jeremiah 1: Jeremiah was afraid to become God’s mouthpiece for fear of what others might think. Have you ever felt that way? Why or why not? 
  5. Read Romans 12:2. What are “patterns of this world?” What would it look like to “transform our minds” especially in regards to the areas of approval or acceptance? 
  6. What would change in your life if you sought the approval of God and no one else?
  7. What are some personal action steps you can take this week based on this message? 

Take One Thing Home with You:

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10)

Most people like approval. In fact, most people need approval. The lies of the enemy make us feel pressured into working harder, faster and longer to reach some invisible standard that we think will give us the approval we need. The problem arises when I need people’s approval more than I do God’s.  And it’s not just real people in real life, it is also with people on social media.  We need the approval of people online. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, we want to be valued. We want to be liked. “How many retweets did I get? How many likes, shares, and comments did that post get? Will they like my writing?” We can be controlled by our approval ratings.

The truth is that all the approval we’ve ever wanted is actually and already ours. God says we’re already beloved (see 1 John 3:1). We’re already known (see Psalm 139:1). We were already loved, even when we were dead in our sin (see Ephesians 2:4-5).