Read 2 Corinthians 5:5-11
5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 I may be untrained in speech,but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.
7 Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted,because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need,I did not burden anyone,for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me,this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! (NRSV)
Someone once said that we may find ourselves spending money we don’t have on buying things we don’t need in order to impress people we don’t like. Others can have a stranglehold on us and we may hardly be aware of it. They have the power to lift us up or cast us down. Our goals and our priorities become distorted as we desperately seek the approval of others. In doing so,we give these others great power over us. More power than is wise. More power than the Spirit of God.
All this can arise out of a deeper insecurity. We so much want to be valued and cared for,to be popular,to be accepted. And so our lives become a sequence of behaviours that will grant us the approval we reckon we need from others. In so doing,we may be ignoring the Spirit of God. Paul the apostle was quite robust in telling his readers that he was sticking to his guns and not succumbing to their shaming criticism of him. He knew he was doing God’s work God’s way irrespective of what they thought about him.
The answer to approval addiction is not to disregard others’ opinions: they can be constructively helpful. The answer is to have our identity deeply rooted in our being adopted children of God. We have his acceptance,his approval. Such acceptance and approval from others is welcome,but not essential. We refuse to become the creatures of others’ expectations. We instead realise that we are anchored in the perfect and unchanging love of God rather than the fickle and fallible opinions of others.