In the last post I discussed an alternative to seeking validation from other people, and that was to get our validation from God instead. I pointed to the example of Jesus, who thrived on the acknowledgement and appreciation of his divine Father. I suggested that as the children of God, our hearts are wired to need His approval, just as how every child seeks the approval of their earthly parents.
Our craving for validation from other people is therefore nothing more or less than a misconstruing of our basic need for divine validation. Yes, we need validation, but no, not from our friends and coworkers. We need to develop a relationship with God in which we can feel His approval regularly.
So, then, how do we go about doing that?
Love vs Approval)
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT) And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; - 1 Nephi 11:22
To start off, we need to take a moment to recognize the difference between God’s love and God’s approval. It is a common thing for those who are living a life contrary to the commandments of God to point out that He still loves them, no matter what they do. And they are absolutely right. God does love all of His children, and He loves them wherever they are in life. Even in the midst of our sins, He is able to manifest His love, and no child is beyond the reach of His grace.
But that is not the same as having God’s approval. Any parent can attest that they are perfectly capable of whole-heartedly loving their child, while not condoning their behavior. So, while there is nothing that we must do to earn God’s love, as the verse from 2 Timothy suggests, there are things that we must do to earn His approval.
And gaining the approval of God is essential to realizing our full, divine potential. As Jesus Christ, himself, attested “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 7:21).
In other words, the love of God is an essential component in being saved…but it isn’t the only component. There will not be any saved who did not feel the love of God, but there will be those that felt His love who are not saved. Indeed, one might say the whole point of experiencing the love of God in our lives was to inspire us to press further and seek for His approval. It is those that receive and maintain the approval of God who can be sure of their salvation.
The Key to God’s Approval)
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 If ye love me, keep my commandments. - John 14:15 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; - Doctrine and Covenants 1:31
So how do we receive the approval of God? The answer is extremely straightforward. You must obey Him. One cannot approve of behavior that they do not advocate for, and God, being the source of all good, can only advocate for what which is good. God can only ever approve of those that follow the good commandments that He has given. God can love the sinner, for love does not require obedience, but God cannot approve of the sinner, for approval does require obedience.
We started this series with the question of how we could obtain the acknowledgement and approval that we crave in life. We have identified that only God can fully provide this approval, not mankind, and now we have concluded that God can only approve of those that follow His commandments. Thus, having the sense of appreciation that we desire is predicated upon our choosing to follow the commandments of God. We can try to argue our way out of this rule, but the heart will remain forever frustrated until we accept and adhere to it.
Recognizing God’s Approval)
But what if we feel that we have been following God’s commandments, yet we still do not feel His approval? What if we suspect He is already speaking His appreciation to us, but we just aren’t attuned to hearing it?
This is entirely possible. Indeed, it is almost certain that God expresses His love to us many times, every day, but that we fail to recognize most, if not all, of His messages.
So how do we pick up on these moments as they are happening? How can we start to understand God’s language better? We’ll dive into that tomorrow. I’ll see you there.