I am so excited to introduce our first Story of Grace! Madi Wenger is a sweet friend, campus missionary for DiscipleMakers, lover of Jesus, and blogger at She Laughs Without Fear. She is talented, joyful and so, so wise. Check out her story below!
I realized that a friend from college unfriended me today. We were friends from theatre, had enjoyed watching movies together, and a smattering of other memories, but she unfriended me at some point over the past few years. I’m not surprised. She’s one of several individuals that I still care who have decided to no longer be friends with me on Facebook.
Every time I realize that I’ve lost a friend whether online or in real life, a number of thoughts flow through my mind…
Was it something I posted? Did I share something that offended her?
Is it because I’m a follower of Jesus?
It’s at that point, Paul’s words to the Galatians comes to mind:
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Five years ago, I would have been devastated to find that someone unfriended me. You see, I lived for the approval of others. I wanted others to take notice of me, of my abilities, personality, and to praise me. I put my worth in what others thought about me, and my days were spent feeling high or low depending on how people responded to me that day. Simply put, I was enslaved to the approval of man.
I’ll never forget the first time a dear friend and mentor brought this to my attention. She brought my people pleasing into the light, and I came face-to-face with a habitual sin in my life, one that blinded and enslaved me for years. I had just started following Jesus earlier that year, and I was learning how God was renewing my heart and my mind to make me more like His Son. My friend encouraged me from Scripture to see that my worth is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and to live for God’s approval, which I already had in Jesus Christ.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been working through this sin for years, seeing the subtle ways that I seek the approval of man: wanting more followers on Instagram, desiring others to praise my blog or my work, getting jealous when others have more seemingly fruitful ministries than mine, or even coveting others’ homes or belongings. And let me tell you, seeking the approval of man always leads to emptiness, but the gospel has set me free as I choose to live in light of God’s approval.
You see, Jesus Christ did not live for the approval of man, ever.
He lived for his Father’s approval and he pleased God. (Mark 1:11)
He was perfect, and yet so that he could save others, he died a death that he didn’t deserve, and his Father forsook him (Mark 15:34).
Jesus was forsaken so that I could have God’s approval, even as I struggle with wanting the approval of man instead. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Jesus rose again, defeating the grave, and defeating sin and death… defeating my sin of seeking the approval of man over God.
When I have moments like I experienced today, when I realize that people aren’t pleased with me, I’m free to walk in the freedom of the gospel, knowing that I don’t need the approval of man. Because of Jesus, I have God’s approval, and his approval brings more life and joy than any person’s approval ever could.
God is making me new by grace by taking an approval junkie like myself and helping me to not find my worth in the approval of others, but rather in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
How about you, my friend?
Have you experienced enslavement to the approval of others in your life?
If so, I would encourage you that you don’t have to be enslaved anymore. There is true freedom in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and there is hope to be made new.