Some of us find it hard to give ourselves permission to think, say, or enjoy certain things because we fear others will disapprove. We’re people-pleasers. We want others to like us, to approve what we do, so we overthink everything. We live by other people’s opinions instead of our own. But we need to start training ourselves to worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Paul wrote: ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ’ (Galatians 1:10 NIV). It can be really hard to stop being a people-pleaser. Society tells us that we need to look a certain way, have lots of friends, and behave in a way that will make us popular. But that’s not God’s way. He wants us to be committed followers of Him. He wants us to realise that His love and approval is enough for us. He wants us to be focused on working for Him. When Paul found out that the Galatians were trying to police people’s lives and force them to live by Jewish traditions instead of the Gospel of grace, he wrote ‘Make sure…you stay free…don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law’ (v.1 NLT). We don’t need to be tied up in trying to please others to gain their approval, or follow rules obsessively to gain God’s approval. The only approval that matters is God’s, and we already have it.
Next time you find yourself doing something to gain the approval of others, stop and remind yourself that you already have God’s approval.