Slaves of Approval
It’s seemingly innocent. Not like any of the “big sins.” In fact, it doesn’t even feel like sin. Plus, it’s not always black and white. It’s a sin that can wrap it’s tentacles around our purest efforts at serving God. No one is immune. No moment is immune. In fact, it’s so natural, that we probably don’t notice when we misdirect our good desires. We are approval seekers, and sometimes we seek that approval from man instead of God.
Luke 16 has an interesting twist in it. Jesus begins to explain a parable by talking about faithfulness with money and dishonest gain. He ends his discussion with verse 13, “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
When the Pharisees hear this, they get mad. They loved money and saw it as a sign of God’s favor. So this implication that money may at times turn your heart from God was seen as an attack. You might think that Jesus’ reply would have included all the injustices of the rich towards the poor, but he actually shifts gears and goes to a deeper issues that is attached to more sins that just the love of money.
 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.  And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
– Luke 16:14-15 (ESV)
The pharisees’ real problem is that they lived a life of outward righteousness, but inside, their hearts were far from God. Jesus accuses them of justifying themselves before men. In other words, they make sure that other people approve of their actions and call them righteous. It may be money, clothes, athletic or academic achievement, perhaps even good deeds, any of it is an “abomination” when it is done for human approval and not from a heart of worship towards God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money. You cannot serve God from the heart while living for human approval.
The great news is that if you are in Christ, you are not in need of approval. He has justified you. He has called you righteous by his blood. You are his child, and that identity is far richer than anything money can buy.
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Luke 16.