The Idol of Approval from Man
“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.” Galatians 1:10
When Paul wrote Galatians, he wrote to expose the pride-inflated, legalistic Judaizers. These people had come to the Galatian churches hoping to sway the Gentiles to be “converted” to their false gospel so that they could boast in their flesh. These false teachers held to the ways of the law, rather than trusting in the Gospel for salvation, because they did not want to bear the marks that came with the true Gospel (Galatians 6:11-16). They feared man and sought man’s approval rather than God’s.
False teachers are not the only ones who can be caught worshipping man’s approval. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were many who believed in him in secret (John 7:13; 12:42-43). They feared persecution. They feared isolation. They feared man.
Peter, a man who walked beside Jesus, saw Him work miracles, believed the gospel he proclaimed, and became ensnared by the fear of man more than once. He denied Jesus three times on one night (Luke 22:54-62). He refused to eat with Gentiles because he feared Jewish men (Galatians 2:11-14).
Jesus said you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). When you choose to seek the approval of man, you stop seeking God. Obedience to God becomes secondary when we fear man.
Paul knew this, which is why he stood firm in his convictions and denied the desire for approval from man. He knew if he began seeking the approval of man, he would stop being a servant of Christ. Paul also knew man was not the one to be feared. Paul knew who was truly sovereign over his life and ministry. Paul knew who was truly powerful. And Paul decided He is the one he would serve.
What about you? Who will you serve? Which master will you submit to?
God, help me to conquer this fear of man that holds me so captive, so frozen. Held me to escape the snare of approval from man, and to instead seek Your will. Help me to love You above all. Amen.
If you struggle with fear of man, I cannot recommend Ed Welch’s book enough: “When People Are Big and God is Small.” Buy or borrow this book and take some time to read it.