The Addiction of Approval

The Addiction of Approval


Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

As it turns out, our defective nature can be addicted to so much more than just drugs or alcohol.  Just as some are addicted to chemicals, others are addicted to the approval of those around them.  In fact, most can probably identify better with addiction to affirmation than addiction to drugs.

You may not understand the alcoholic, but you likely can understand the need to be seen as worthwhile in the eyes of those around you. This is an addiction as sure as alcohol or drugs, taking on different forms in different people. You may have a need to be attractive or you may need to be seen as successful in parenting or a career.  Whatever form it takes, you give those around you the power to control how you feel about yourself.  You feel terrible when others think poorly of you and you feel good when you are praised.  Thus, you depend on others for your happiness or misery.  You are addicted to approval.

One of the worst days of my destruction was when the news of my misdeeds hit the local paper. It felt like everyone in the world was talking about my disaster.  I very much wanted to control what others thought of me and I very much wanted people to think highly of me. In treatment, when I felt God telling me to follow him, again, my thoughts turned to what others would think.  God, I do not want to be seen as a religious nut.  In both circumstances, with the paper and with God, my focus was on what others would think of me.  I was, in addition to being chemically addicted, addicted to the approval of others.

So what Jesus says in this passage is completely inconsistent with my nature.  Jesus says I am not to care what the others think of me, but rather what others think of God in me. I am not to forget the world but rather I am to desire that I reflect God to the world. If others see God in me and do not like it, should that wreck my day?  No!  I am blessed, Jesus says, when others revile me.  When God shows through me and others hate it, they are not rejecting me, they are rejecting God.  I am not happy when God is rejected, but I am to find my purpose and happiness in God.  When others see God in me, even if they hate it, it is affirmation that I am living for my highest purpose.

My true meaning and approval comes not from man but God.  It is in his approval that my worth should rise and fall.  As He has given me this new spirit life, in which He sees me as eternally perfect, I do not have to ever feel worthless again.  I am saved, loved and seen as righteous by the only one whose opinion matters.  I live for the approval of God, which I do not have to earn as it has been freely given.  So, I need to continually accept that my value lies not in me, but in God in me.

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