We have an intimate desire to be praised by others. We like to have our work and our accomplishments to be praised. Often, the things that get the most praise from others are contrary to the ways of God. Instead of placing His glory at the forefront, we glorify ourselves.
The idea of wanting praise from others is certainly not a new one. It goes all the way back to when the bible was written and even before that. Today, I would like to look at one bible passage from Luke that highlights this shortfall in man.
Luke 22:24-27 (HCSB)
The Dispute over Greatness
24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.
In this passage, Luke is tenacious and honest about the immaturity of the disciples. After so great of a spiritual experience as the Passover meal, conducted by the Lord Himself, the disciples argued over who was the greatest among them. Had they misunderstood everything Jesus was trying to teach them?
Greatness is the world is based on power and public recognition, but Christ taught that spiritual greatness requires humility and self-sacrifice. Jesus is our example because he came among us as the one who serves.
We are wise to remember that everything costs something. Success in the eyes of the world can often be the worst possible thing to pursue. Gaining success in the world may cost you your marriage, your friends, your church, or your integrity. Nothing is worth losing those things. Jesus asked, “What have you profited to gain the world but lose your soul?” Many people have sacrificed nearly everything sacred in their lives to gain what they think will satisfy or deliver happiness, only to be disappointed.
The main problem with our acclaim is that we love it. We must replace our desire to be praised by others with a desire to please God. If we honor Him, nothing else matters. The world can count us as failures, but if God is pleased, all is well. This kind of attitude enables us to persevere through any trial.
This is something that I have personally struggled with for a great portion of my life. I have worked hard in my life with the goal of getting the praise of others. Sometimes it worked out great and the praise I received from others seemed to make the hard work worthwhile. Other times, I did not get the praise from others I had hoped for and I was left feeling empty and unfulfilled. What I didn’t realize then, was that if I had worked to please God and not others, I would never experience the paine that comes from emptiness and fulfillment. God loves us and shows us favor in all seasons. He never abandons us. Now that I have learned this lesson, my life is so much happier. I don’t let the opinions of others dictate how I feel about the work I have done.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do struggle with this at times. When I find myself seeking the approval of others, I find myself right back at that feeling of emptiness and my life seems unfulfilled. Once I get my priorities back on track, life seems so much better.
While I am not yet where I want to be with this idea, thank goodness I am not where I used to be.
When you are faced with a decision, ask yourself if your motive is to please God or to please people. If you are trying to please people, you are going down a dead-end road.