23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

John 2:23-25

Jesus would not “commit himself” to those in Jerusalem after the temple cleansing and signs he performed because He understood what was in man’s heart and he didn’t need the recognition from it. He only came to do what the father would approve of.

This is one of the most powerful things John tells us about Jesus. Jesus sought only His Father’s approval, not man’s. We need to focus on what gains us God’s approval. It sounds simple, but it is so hard because man’s voice is always louder to us than God’s.

First, I am not saying we need to gain God’s approval for our salvation. Salvation is from faith in Jesus and His atoning blood and that alone. That said, once we have been accepted by God through Jesus, we can walk in a greater level of His authority, His presence and His power when we choose to see ourselves through the lens of God’s approval.

We Need Approval

This is powerful because by nature, we all seek approval in one form or another. Jesus knew what was locked deep inside the heart of man. Jesus instructed Jeremiah on this long ago:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Inside, there is a terrible wickedness that lurks around, and that wickedness often shows its face when we have the power to accept or reject other people. Often, our acceptance of others is manipulative. We accept them because we want something from them. Jesus understood this and modeled for us something very powerful. He showed us that God’s approval is what empowers us, even in the face of boisterous praise or extreme rejection from man.

What are three things we can do to fill our minds with God’s approval instead of man’s?

1. Study God’s Word. We must fill our minds with what God has already said. We need the Word in us, and we only get that through daily reading, devotion and study. You cannot know God, and will never feel His approval, if you refuse to listen to Him.

2. Spend time in prayer. We have to learn what God’s voice sounds like apart from the voices outside of us. That may come in various ways, but we have to quiet our mind and spirit and spend time in prayer to learn. You can’t do this on the run. It needs to be scheduled.

3. Say no. This may sound harsh, but to set ourselves free from the praise of man we must learn to tell people no. If we practice the first two things then we will have the confidence to know when to say “no” even when it looks like we are giving up tremendous advancement opportunities, as well as “yes” when we should. “Yes” can be the prison door to the fear of man.

Breaking free from the fear of man is easier said than done. We all do actually need the approval of man sometimes. We need our boss’s approval, or that of a teacher to progress in our career or studies, but it is much better to seek the approval of God and let Him have those conversations with them instead of us. When we see ourselves as trying to earn God’s approval, we put our hearts in a much safer place.

That is because God is really good at getting others to approve of us when we actually need it.

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