8) Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come.John 7:8 (KJV)
Introduction – Man’s Quest for Approval
Have you ever wanted to be the “belle of the ball”? What about the “life of the party” or the “toast of the town”?
The truth is, there are times when all of us want to be in the spotlight. We’ve all done things at one time or another solely to drum up our popularity.
While it’s not necessarily wrong to be confident or social, its another thing entirely to be obsessed with seeking the attention and approval of others.
The Bible is full of reasons against this dangerous approach to living. (Rom. 12:3, Phil. 2:3-5, Prov. 26:12)“Many today define their success and derive meaning by how much fame they receive.”
Sadly however, many today define their success and derive meaning by how much fame they receive.
Individual’s clamor, climb, reach and scrap for any small fragment of recognition they can find. So many go to the greatest lengths to feel accepted and approved by others.
Some want their own platform, agenda, and voice. Many wish to be “activists” – their eyes and ears fine-tuned to the opinions of others, yet ultimately to the detriment of their own self-worth.
To make matters worse, those who are obsessed with popularity do so at the expense of leaving God totally out of their life.“Those who are obsessed with popularity do so at the expense of leaving God totally out of their life.”
They never stop to consider the value God places on them as his unique and special creation. (Ps. 139:14)
This is exactly how Satan wants it to be; man deceived into thinking that this world is all there is and all that matters. (Matt. 4:8-9)
Jesus and The Feast of Tabernacles
Thankfully there is another way. In the beginning of John 7 Jesus’s half-siblings (James, Joseph, Simeon and Judas) implore him to attend the Feast of Tabernacles with them.
The Feast of the Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot, is a harvest feast given by the Israelites to commemorate and remember their deliverance from Egypt.
Part of the festival involves the construction of temporary “booths” that the Jewish people live in during the seven day feast.
While still celebrated today, in the time of Jesus, it was one of the paramount events on the Jewish religious and social calendar.
It’s the kind of event where you can be seen. One that someone can capitalize on to help increase their favor and popularity. In fact, this is just what Jesus’s half-siblings wanted.
Notice, they desired others to “see the works” that Jesus did and for Jesus to show himself “to the world.” (John 7:3-4)“When its time to attend a social function or event, do you use it to your advantage or to God’s?”
However, “neither did his brethren believe in him.” (Jn. 7:5) They were entirely misguided and didn’t even know him as the Messiah.
They wanted him to cause a scene, increase their popularity, impress everyone and bring his kingdom to earth.
Their reasons for him attending the feast were selfishly motivated. They didn’t stop to consider God’s plan. (Jn. 7:4)
So, what did Jesus do? He refused to go on their terms. He eventually went later on, but without the pomp his family so desired. He was focused on God’s glory and will instead. (Jn. 7:8)
It’s an interesting account. Jesus was being coerced by his own family, who no doubt wanted the accolades and power that they wrongly thought Jesus would bring them.
How do you react in similar circumstances? When its time to attend a social function or event, do you use it to your advantage or to God’s? The former feeds off pride, the later allows God to get the increase.
Created to Please God
Remember, the actions we take in this life, especially as we follow after God, are not to please others, or ourselves, but God alone. (Rev. 4:11)
We live for another. As Jesus would state later at the feast, we seek the glory of the God. (Jn. 7:18)“True freedom comes when we act for and according to God, not when we run on the endless hamster wheel of self-promotion.”
While this might sound like a second rate way of living at first, that is only because it grates against our naturally prideful tendencies.
The reality is that true freedom comes when we act for and according to God, not when we run on the endless hamster wheel of self-promotion.
Remember, attention seeking almost always coincides with a desire for approval.
However, our self-worth is not determined or defined by how we are received and viewed by man. It is only what God thinks of us that matters.
Moreover, if you are a Christian, God has already approved you!
You don’t need to continually pat yourself on the back or allow anyone else to tell you who you are supposed to be.
“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2 Cor. 10:18) Our approval comes from God, and that’s something to cherish!
With this in mind, we can put our ego on the shelf. We can better care for and serve others. (Gal. 1:10, Phil. 2:3-4, Mk. 12:31)
As Christians we must view others as more important than us. We must decrease and God must increase. (Jn. 3:30)
So, how have you been doing when it comes to attention and self-worth?
Have you been focused on gaining social points, corporate accolades and status? Or have you be able to successfully put God’s will and the needs of others ahead of your own?
May we strive to be genuine, tactful, and to keep God first in all that we do, for it is only his approval that matters.
We are approved of God. Let’s rest in that.
Soli Deo gloria!
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The Drive, Central Park, c. 1905. William Glackens (American, 1870-1938). Oil on canvas. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1939.524.