As children of God, we should be the freest people on Earth. The internal sense of freedom that is offered to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ should produce hearts that are foundationally secure and filled with purpose. Our attention should be riveted on God and His desires. But instead, Christians are too often bound by the desires and opinions of others.
This is not a new problem. God’s children in the Old Testament valiantly walked into the Promised Land with God who gave them victory. But they failed to confront the pagan religious practices in the place of their blessing, and they became slaves to the people they should have ruled over. “So now today we are slaves in the land of plenty that you gave our ancestors for their enjoyment! We are slaves here in this good land” (Nehemiah 9:36, NLT).
Instead of becoming wholly dedicated to the purposes of Christ, we become slaves to the very things God offers us freedom from.
How does this happen? The root of the issue is simple: we focus more on the opinions of people than on God’s instructions.
Craving others’ applause, support, or approval can manifest itself in a variety of ways. For some, it’s the desire to curate a beautiful image or life on social media. Decisions are based on “likes” and “follows.” For others, it’s the inability to make a decision, such as changing a job or doing what God is prompting, without the approval of many. Still others allow the words and opinions of others to shape their entire identity. All of these are forms of slavery to the idol of approval.
The ability to live faithfully for Christ, whether in obscurity or in the public light, is solidly based on living in His freedom—free from the applause of the crowd and the opinions of people.
“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, ESV).
As we seek Christ’s approval above all else, we will find freedom. The opinions of others will begin to matter less and less. Spending time in His Word helps us shape our identities based on His truths. Time in prayer reminds us to pray for others rather than seek their approval. And living in God’s presence helps us remain unwaveringly focused on Him.