As North American believers, we often equate idol worship with bowing before objects made of stone or metal. We visualize it as paying homage to a religious icon that sits on a shelf surrounded by burning candles and incense. With that understanding, we find it impossible, even highly offensive, to think that we might be involved in idol worship.
But it’s true.
Take, for instance, the idol of approval. Who doesn’t want to be liked by others? Who doesn’t want to find favor in the eyes of man? I do. Chances are good that you can relate.
Sometimes, without our even realizing it, that desire for approval influences our attitudes and behaviors. It can become the driving force—the motivation—behind our goals and desires.
So how can we know whether we’re bowing to the idol of approval? Here are three signs:
Maintaining a flawless image is of utmost importance lest others think we’re weak or inadequate. Our housekeeping is immaculate. So is our car, our yard, and our outer appearance. We strive to be the best despite our endless efforts and subsequent stress nearly pushing ourselves (and those closest to us) over the brink. We refuse help from others because, heaven forbid, they’ll not fulfill according to our standards. What’s the motivation behind perfectionism? Our insatiable desire for others to think well of us.
Because we so desperately need others’ approval, we strive to control the people in our lives. As moms, we keep too-tight reins on our kids lest their behavior or dress reflect poorly on our parenting skills. As spouses, we nag and criticize, trying to change our partners lest their actions reflect poorly on us as husbands and wives. Or we speak negatively about them to others in a subconscious attempt to elevate ourselves.
We also strive to control our circumstances lest something happen that reveals a weakness in us. Fear lies at the root of our control issues, but we often don’t recognize that even when our relationships begin to suffer.
I remember the days when my kids were young, and I, as a stay-at-home mom struggled with feelings of not being enough. I responded by assuming church responsibilities—playing piano for Sunday worship and choir, teaching a children’s Sunday school class, becoming the Sunday school superintendent, and volunteering on the music committee. I also taught piano lessons, became a licensed daycare provider, and sold Tupperware.
All of these things were okay in themselves, but my motive for my busyness—recognized years later—was to receive a pat on the back, a commendation from others to affirm that I was okay or better yet—highly valued and competent in their eyes. My activities weren’t motivated by a love for Jesus and others. They were all about bowing to the idol of approval.
Nowadays, as an author and speaker, I have to guard my heart against busyness driven by a desire for others’ approval. I want my work—my speaking, my blogging, my social media activity and monthly newsletters—to be motivated purely by love for Jesus and my readers as opposed to my need for public acknowledgement and a publisher’s smile.
So how do we stop worshiping the idol of approval?
By coming to a renewed understanding of God’s love for us. Imagine! He loves us enough to die for us, cleanse us from guilt and shame, hold us in His hand, guide us along the best pathway for our life, fill us with His presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and care for our needs now and through our old age.
The God who created heaven and earth is crazy in love with us.
“Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
Understanding God’s immeasurable love for us sets us free from the idol of approval. Perfectionism, a need for control, and busyness motivated by a need for others’ nods and smiles no longer drive us. Instead, we walk in freedom and inner peace knowing God loves and accepts us. What else matters?
I’d love your feedback on these thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Can you relate to what I’m talking about, or am I the only one who’s dealt with/is dealing with the idol of approval?
#bgbg2 #IdolOfApproval #devotions