Links of Approval
(You can read the introduction to this 8 week study here. You can also click the tag at the bottom of this post and all of the Biblical Motherhood posts will be shown to you.)
Please pray today and thank God that He wants to give you His view of you! Ask Him to help you to receive it!
"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise, " 2 Corinthians 10:12.
As you read this verse, do you wonder how can we not compare ourselves to others? Isn't that how we are urged on to do our best? We know that competition in business helps to keep prices down, and in sports team competes against team to find who are the most skilled players. What about grades in school? What could this verse mean? What could God be after?
First, we must know that the way of the whole world is to compare people to people, and it is a powerful motivator. Dependence on others' thoughts of our character and the opportunities we might gain through them can move us to do great things. The world will always compare people, and because of our old nature we will feel pressure to do the same. In fact, it is the only measurement there is outside of God.
But in Christ, is there an authentic measurement?
In the world of competition where one goes against another, the goal is to see who performs the best. Value is placed on the actions one is able to do. This is essential when, say, a person is applying for work. An employer must be able to determine whom to hire, and he must look at each person's achievements to make a judgment between them. He should choose whomever is most suited to the work.
Often a Christian should look at the gifting he has and others have been given by God to find where the Lord has designed him to be. The above verse is not speaking of this kind of comparison. This is discernment. We need this!
What God is speaking of in 2 Corinthians 10:12 is something harmful to us. It increases our fear of what others think of us and takes our eyes off of the Lord. This kind of comparison pits us against each other in an attempt to put ourselves first, or at least to do as well as others. It is a counterfeit that can only work fear in us, and not love. To gain God's view of this issue, we need His Word! Because we are studying God's design for us as students, we will liken this to the approval we attempt to achieve through our studies, but it also applies to any situation in life where there is comparison, which is used to control us. It is a good illustration of a place in our life where we often have an altar built to worship something other than God but, as is with most altars, it is not easily recognizable.
We all need correction. For example, it is good to find where we have worked math problems incorrectly and must go back to find the right answer. That is how authentic learning takes place. It can be through getting information that is true, and we believe it and act on it. That's the easiest way! But learning often takes place through our failure: when we forget, or when we make a mistake as we are working, or if we refuse to use the formula needed to achieve the right answer. When we are tested, we find where we have not gained an understanding. Through repetition we may remember what we have tended to forget. But a test often reveals what questions we need to ask in order to know what we have been missing. We can be thankful for correction.
You are going with your children through their education. Your child needs to know where he has done something wrong in order to learn to do it correctly. When he receives a certain percentage on his paper, it is a legitimate mark of performance. It shows him and you what he 'got' and that there are things he still needs to know. It is not an assessment of the child's person. It does not tell you who they are and what they will achieve one day. A score can be an opportunity to go further. It is correction that forms us and informs us!
Please copy here the last lines of both Proverbs 15:5 and 10:
But comparison such as in 2 Corinthians 10:12 is not correction. It is fearful of what others think, and that is oppressive. In the center of the word "oppressive" is the word "press." That is what oppression is like. It pressures us and makes us act out of obligation and fear. Creativity and desire are not encouraged under oppression. It does not know joy. It will earn acceptance from others even at great cost. Walking this way, we will find we have a heavy burden, a "chain" we think we need in order to be approved, links that we cannot get free from.
When education becomes about pleasing people, achieving an acceptance from others because of what we can do, and hoping for good placement from them, we are in a vulnerable position. We are trying to please others by 'works', taking man's counsel, and looking to our performance to gain what we want. But we have missed the heart of God, not understanding that He is looking for us to use the gifts and skills He has given to us not to please men, but to please Him!
Israel did this, taking Egypt as their covering instead of God. For us, Egypt is a picture of the world, and this passage is very instructional to our lives in this light. Please read Isaiah 30:1-5. In verse 1, what did God want to give His people?
From verse 2, what did God want to give and be for His people?
Verse 3 tells what Israel would receive from the people in whom they had placed their trust. What did they receive?
We often have hopes of receiving what we need from the world. We live in the world and feel that in order to "make it" we must do whatever it takes. But God doesn't see it that way. In God's eyes, when we trust someone other than Him, it is idolatry.
In the King James Version, verse 3 says that their trust would become their confusion.
How about you? Have you received confusion where you thought you would find wisdom?
God has more for you than this! What does He offer you in Isaiah 33:6?
We need to know God's character in order to stand firm in Him! Please copy 1 Corinthians 14:33:
We can thank God that He doesn't write confusion, but His peace is His trademark. As it is written, this is true in all the churches of the true believers! Those who are united by the Spirit of God in the family of faith can encourage each other and we can learn and grow together out of confusion and into the knowledge of God through His Word. Once we have a family (husband and children), God lets our impact affect one another greatly as well. While it can be used either way, He intends it for good.
Turn to Deuteronomy 30:19,20. In verse 19, who will your choice affect?
From verse 20, what is God for you?
Your life is in Christ, as a believer. He made you and saved you! You belong to Him! He also holds in His hand the "length of your days," how long you will live. You don't need to worry about your life. He, who is your life, also holds your life. You can rest in His provision.
You may want to copy Revelation 4:11 here. It is an excellent verse to memorize with your children.
From Romans 11:29, God gives two things to you that He will not take back. What are they?
Do you realize that you have certain gifts from God for which only He can reveal His purpose? He made you and has a plan for your life, your husband's and your children's lives. Know that your children's strengths and weaknesses are a tool for you to see which direction the Lord would have them go. We aren't made to excel at everything. The gifts God gives are His, and what we receive from Him can be invested and made useful for His kingdom! He will meet every effort we give for His glory with His power to perform it, that people may see that He is God, and that He is good. We mothers will see God's glory as we make attempts to teach our children, and find the Lord's loving kindness there at every turn. Our children will see God's glory as we learn to love them with the acceptance that God gives to us, no matter our exact performance! His love is for them in the same way!
Our children do need to have skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. They can't be compared to others for how quickly they should "catch on." Sometimes the greater lesson is not the mastery of a skill, but of patience and kindness, and the upholding of one's value not because of their performance, but because they are loved deeply by God.
Who should our studies give glory (reality) to? (exalt, boast about) See 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Now how can we glorify God or do something as to the Lord? Romans 14:6 says, "He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks." Through this verse, how can a person do something "to the Lord?"
A people who are not controlled by fear from outward pressure can be a people filled with joy and ready to do what is in their hand to do for God's glory! It isn't that we don't need any authority. We are under God's authority and those humans He puts in authority over us. Our children are under our authority. But as the people of God, we should grow past the need to be made to be productive, to have someone checking over our shoulder on us, because of our desire to please and obey the Lord. We will practice this to a greater degree the longer we walk with Jesus. It is a process of the heart, and God gives us a picture to help us see how it can look.
Please find Proverbs 6:6-8. As we "consider her ways and be wise," what will we not require in order to work diligently (verse 7)?
What kinds of things might we be about (verse 8)?
In the Word of God we learn that God has given us His creation through which to observe His character (Romans 1:20). But we are quite unable to learn His goodness and perform it. This is what the cross is all about! Now that we are saved, how can we do that which we know is His goodness (Romans 8:9a)?
As mothers, we are learning how to be a student under God, to live by His Spirit (to hear from God and obey Him through His strength), and to lead our children to Him as well.
When our heart is open toward the Lord, He will teach us in a way that will suit our gifting from Him, and He will show us the way to use it! We will gain confidence in Him that He will also do this for our children.
As we instruct our children we will need to listen to them, and to be prompt with discipline for lying. This is essential, since there is an honesty about not needing someone to make you do your work. We can function in freedom, gladly thanking God for what we can do, and we can teach our children this way of keeping at our work until it is finished. Teach, encourage and correct! Live in front of them; live with them! But avoid fear instilled by human comparison that will keep you from teaching your children by the Spirit's leading.
How can we avoid such fear? We see the problem, but how do we move from here to freedom?
The key is found in understanding where we are focusing, and where we need to focus. Please find Hebrews 12:2 and write, very simply, our Focus:
From Matthew 5:8, what work is the Lord doing in us so that we can have this view?
So before our heart is pure, it is clouded with things that keep us from seeing Him. Consider what a person's focus will be on if she is very concerned about a letter grade which shows her where she is in comparison to other people. Won't her attention be on others? How about a concentration on one's own percentage? There one is absorbed in how well her own progress is going, and so is thinking about herself. One who cares very much for accumulating ideas, knowledge and the benefits it promises to bring will soon find education itself the focus.
But a purified heart will be seeking God in each area of study; He is the Subject. In all that is taken up to learn, it is done to please Him and to know Him a little better. The skills of mathematics and reading and writing a language are intensely about God. To invest them to know Him gives Him honor and glory! And so education now is no longer about a measurement of our achievement, but about the Lord God, and our study becomes a pleasure rather than an endless pursuit. This is not to say that it will never be difficult, but study becomes so full of purpose that the links of heaviness and expectation are unhooked and no longer hold our attention captive.
Now, we not only are enjoying God in our study, but we have something to share with others. The knowledge of God becomes our fragrance! (2 Corinthians 2:14)
So how should we consider the measurements of mankind now that we are learning to be controlled from the inside by the Spirit of the Living God? God can still use them for us.
Please find 2 Corinthians 8:8. What does God use to test the sincerity of our love for Him?
Sometimes the diligent, earnest efforts of a person are for another, sometimes a person can be earnestly against the other. God can use either for His child. As we grow in trust in Him, He can help us to see the positive and negative reactions of others toward us as His test for us, and so we can gain courage because we know that He is using it for us.
And when we gain courage, we can be for others, too! As it is written in Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." When we are encouraged by someone else running the race, we will find ourselves no longer trying to outdo them, but instead we will pray for their continued courage, speak words that hold them up, draw boldness and determination to do well in our own life, "as unto the Lord," and live thanking God, thanking God!
Will you please pray with me?
Father, You are different than my old nature which tries to manipulate to be pleased or comforted. I confess that I have these things in me that are so against Your nature. I remember the cross You died on for me and I ask You to forgive me for the sake of Your own Son. Please so change me that I will treasure Your approval of me! Take out of me this fear of man so that I can fear and respect You! You give Life; You are Life. So I wait for You now to do this work in me. Help me see Your acceptance of me and let go of trying to please the world. Replace that fear of the world with a fresh focus and authentic love for you! Fill me with hope so that I will love my family the way You love me. Give me courage to be a workman who encourages others. Help me to obey what You tell me so that You can set me free. In Jesus' name, A-men!