We seem to be born with this strong urge to find approval and acceptance. It usually starts in childhood by wanting to please our parents to gain their love. It progresses as we look for it from other family members and later from our peers and eventually from those in authority like teachers and employers.
If we’re honest with ourselves, its motivation may be seen in many of the choices we make, like who we associate with, what we say, where we go or don’t go, and even in the things that we buy.
The monumental problem here is that it snuffs out the uniqueness of who we were actually created to be, forcing us into conformity and mediocrity to please others.
It’s a weakness we have as human beings searching for our own significance and value based on what others think or say about us.
Yet there is freedom. Allowing Jesus into our lives can lead to knowing that we are totally accepted based on his sacrifice. It’s a gift referred to as the grace of God. His sacrifice was so overwhelmingly complete, that it disregards any need to earn or work for approval, acceptance, or love.
However searching for approval and acceptance from men and women in our lives can often block this freedom. One day people like us and the next day we’re not good enough or we said or did something that they disapprove of. It’s near impossible for others to love us unconditionally. That’s why we have to give up looking for it from people and receive what’s been offered to us by Jesus. Only he is capable of thoroughly loving us regardless of the mistakes we make and the wrong things that we say and do. This was proven by Jesus loving us and sacrificing himself for us long before we knew him when we were actually his enemies. So it never depended upon our performance but only on the goodness and kindness of God.
However we struggle to believe this because all of our lives we were repeatedly trained to earn approval by what we do and how well we do it. With some of us it started when our parents or guardians loved us when they thought we were good but then disapproved of us when we displeased them. Later in our childhood we got grades in school based on our performance, good or bad. As adults, our employers review our performance to determine our pay increases or promotions. It carries over into many of our relationships by expressing disapproval or acceptance based on criteria set by others.
So when it comes to the extravagant love of God we have to take a giant leap to unlearn this method of earning approval and love. This can be quite challenging but Jesus knows it and wants to help us. Instead of being limited to believing it mentally, we can actually experience his incredible love and begin to find freedom. Many times he has overwhelmed me with actual experiences of his love, his peace, and his presence. My experiences often come during worship or meditation but each of us are unique. Some might experience him in nature or while reading the Bible or in some other way.
No matter how you choose to find him, we can grow in learning that God is so good that he doesn’t accept us based on what we’ve done but rather by what Jesus has done for us.
In my own life I’ve heard Jesus tell me how much he loved me at the moment of having just committed a most ugly sin. Why? Because he wanted me to learn that my approval, value and worth has nothing to do with my performance. Although there are consequences to my sin, yet that doesn’t affect my being completely accepted based on the sacrifice of Jesus cross. Therefore his approval and love of me never waivers because I’m having a bad or ugly day.
When we accept this gift, we will find ourselves breaking free of the shame, guilt or condemnation that’s attached itself to us. Truth be known all the shame, guilt, and condemnation we deserved was placed on Jesus when he was on the cross. It’s all paid for guys! There’s no longer anything for us to earn. All we need is to accept his payment for the wrong things done in our lives.
We can embrace being his much loved children who are totally accepted, completely approved, and unconditionally loved, independent of what we’ve done. We don’t need to deserve it. Jesus has done everything to secure our relationship with him.
Then we get to love him back with the love he’s given us!
Leave behind thinking that you need to earn approval and love, and simply believe that Jesus took your place so that you could be extravagantly loved.
How awesome God is, that he considers us his dearly loved daughters and sons! (1 John 3:1 mine)