“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or 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 ESV
Most places of employment have an annual review process. During these reviews, you sit with your manager, and they provide feedback on your performance over the past year. Specific things discussed are whether you met your objectives, if so, how well, and areas of improvement. About ten years ago, I had a review with a new inexperienced manager. For the first time in 20 years, I received an unfavorable performance rating, when we got to areas for improvement, the manager had only vague suggestions. The evaluation appeared to be based on the manager’s subjective versus subjective opinion. The next year, under a different manager, my performance rating went back to what I had experienced in previous years.
So often, the things we value and the opinions we hold are based on arbitrary human standards. We allow our baggage and biases to get in the way of God’s righteous standard. Knowing that we are prone to making poor decisions, it follows that seeking the approval of others -- who also exercise poor judgment -- is also a mistake. When we seek the approval of man, we will always be sorely disappointed. Today’s verse goes even further if we try to please man, we cannot also serve God. You cannot serve two masters; it’s God, or not God, those are the choices. As a servant of Christ, we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to aid us in avoiding the poor decisions of humans. Through the study of scripture, prayer, and meditation, we can discern what God’s will in the face of the constant bombardment of men, parties, groups, and organizations clamoring for our approval.
Was my manager right that for that one year my performance had fallen off? I do not think so, but admit it is possible. What I do know is that it was a challenge to my ego. While the rating on the review annoyed me, the fact that I felt annoyed bothered me even more. I let it eat away at me for a few weeks, caught up in my desire to meet the arbitrary human standard of this individual. It’s is only after I went to God in prayer that I found peace. The answer I received was, “Let it go, it doesn’t matter.”
God, we give thanks for your Son, Jesus Christ, our example of living in harmony with you. We acknowledge that too often we try to please man and are disappointed. Those things do not matter. It is you through you that we come to understand what is of real value. Help us to be your servants, and let others see your standard in us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.