Read: Galatians 1
Consider: Paul was confident of where he stood in Christ. He introduces his letter to the Galatians in this way: Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead … (Galatians 1:1)
He knew that he had personally been chosen by God to serve him in taking the good news of the gospel to the Gentiles. This confidence could have resulted in arrogance on Paul’s part, but instead it gave him an assurance that he was doing the right thing, even when he faced opposition.
Knowing that he had God’s approval meant that Paul didn’t have to worry about doing things or expressing particular views to gain men’s approval. In 21st century terminology Paul didn’t have to worry about being politically correct. This would have been enormously freeing for Paul, as he could say what God wanted him to say without restraint.
The questions for you and me must be – Where do we get our confidence? Whose approval do we seek? People seek confidence in many things – family background, upbringing, qualifications, wealth or possessions. Paul, however, doesn’t rely on any of these things (see Galatians 1:13-24). He could have pointed to many attributes valued by the world, but instead he relied on his knowledge of God having chosen him; something that the world would not necessarily value.
So whose approval do you seek and is it always wrong to do so? At work, is it the bosses and those in authority? In church, is it the pastor, elders or home group leaders? At home, is it your friends, parents, partner, or children? It is clear that this need for approval is inbuilt into the human psyche so it cannot always be wrong. We are built to please others, as well as to seek their approval. What is envisaged by Paul is a person’s need for approval that is so strong that they would be prepared to conform to the world’s standards or to water down the gospel message. In spiritual matters we are not to seek any approval other than God’s.
Pray: Father, may we truly place our confidence in you and may we seek only your approval in matters of faith. Give us the strength and the insight to know when we value human approval, above your approval. Forgive us for sometimes not being bold for you. Amen