Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Yearning for Approval

Leslie Basham: Do you crave approval? Here’s Carrie Gaul.

Carrie Gaul: Your approval before God has nothing to do with what you do or what you don’t do. It has everything to do with the event that took place in the past through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it has continuing results in your life today.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, June 9, 2014.

Deep in your heart do you ever find yourself asking questions like this?

Carrie: Am I going to be good enough? Do I have what it takes to make it? Will I ultimately be approved when all is said and done?

Leslie: I think everyone knows what it’s like to long for the approval of others. Today you will hear practical, biblical insight into how to be set free from that craving for approval. Here’s Nancy to introduce today’s guest teacher.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, I am so delighted today that we get to have a guest teacher here on Revive Our Hearts. She’s no stranger to the Revive Our Hearts family. Carrie Gaul has been a part of our team for eight years now. She serves in our biblical correspondence department.

But she has a lot of other hats she wears and roles she has. She’s just a mentor and a friend. When women in our ministry have burdens or concerns on their hearts they always know that Carrie Gaul is one woman that they can go to, they can share their heart with.

We have many women in our audience today who are friends of Carrie. You’ve been in her Bible studies that she’s taught over the years. Carrie’s been teaching Precept Bible studies and others for some twenty years. She loves God’s Word. She loves the Truth. She loves God’s people. And she loves living out the truth of God’s Word. And that’s what we love to hear in those who communicate the truth.

Carrie, welcome to Revive Our Hearts. Thank you so much for being willing to share this series that is something that God has worked in your life over the course of a lot of years, isn’t it?

Carrie: Thank you, Nancy. I’m just so grateful to be here. And it is. These truths God has kneaded into the fabric of my life over the last twenty-five years.

Nancy: So this is coming out of a heart and a life that have been prepared. I know the women here today are eager to hear from the Lord. I want to pray for you as we get started.

Lord, we thank You for the power of Your truths. We thank You for Your Word. We thank You for Jesus. We thank You for the gospel. It really is good news. We hear so much bad news today and our hearts are heavy with so many issues and problems and troubles and frustrations in this world.

But today we come to soak in the good news. We come to let You encourage and lift up our hearts with Your grace. So thank You for how You’ve prepared Carrie for teaching, for sharing Your Word with others. Thank You for the preparation that she’s done. And I pray a blessing on her. I pray for fresh oil and anointing as she teaches today and over these next several days.

Lord, would You speak to her? Would You speak through her? Would You speak to us by the power of Your Holy Spirit? And Lord, change our lives, change our thoughts, change our hearts as You speak to us through Your Word and through this servant. And for all of this we’ll give You thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Carrie: Well, it is a delight to be here and a joy to serve with the team here at Revive Our Hearts. Those of us in the biblical correspondence department often say that we have the best job in the world because we get to connect with women from across the country and now literally across the globe. Through emails and letters we get to hear the stories of what God is doing in their lives, how He’s molding and shaping and conforming them into His image. I can think of nothing better than to be able to sit with each of you and do that.

My husband said to me a little bit earlier this morning, “You’d better get the crying over right away at the beginning.”

And I said, “We’re not going to cry today.” But it is just a joy to have so many faces in our live audience today that God has used in my life.

You have prayed for me. You have encouraged me. You have taught me the things that God is now going to give us the opportunity to share. So many of us have sat over coffee from time to time and chatted about the things in our lives. You’ve told me your stories, and I’ve gotten to hear that. I wish I could do that with every one of you.

I can think of nothing greater than to hear the burdens and the desires and the longings that are on your heart, the way you’re seeing God at work in your lives in these days, and the ways that you’re longing to see Him work in the days ahead.

If we sat long enough I think we might even touch upon a desire that’s common to so many of us, and that’s a desire and a longing to know that we have worth; to know that we as women have value; to know that we’ve been approved. It’s a desire that’s common among us as women although many times it’s a desire that is somewhat hidden behind all of the interactions that we have with our various family members and friends and acquaintances.

As a young child I remember as my parents and my brother and I would leave the home of a family or a friend we would be . . . This was in the 1960s. We would be in the car, and I remember leaning up over that bench seat and saying to my mom, “Did I do good?” As an adult, when I look back at that, I think what I was really asking was, “Was I good enough to gain your approval?”

I have a sweet fifteen-year-old gal who lives in our neighborhood. As she was getting ready a couple of summers ago to begin high school, I saw her out in the front yard. She was sitting along the house. It looked like she might be crying, so I went over to her, and we just started chatting for a while.

She was preparing for her first year of high school. She is bright. She’s a firstborn; she’s intelligent; she is athletic; she’s musical; she’s Type A, and she’s driven and has a desire for a medical career. As we talked, I listened to what she was sharing, the stresses really in her life as she anticipated the next four years of her life.

She needed to get the right grades; she needed to get the right sports team. She needed to be part of the right musical group all in order to get into the right college, so she could be launched into the right career, so she would eventually have the financial prestige which even as a then thirteen- or fourteen-year-old young woman, it was heavy upon her heart that all that was a need.

As I saw her, she’s telling me this story, I thought, The question she’s really asking is, “Am I going to be good enough? Do I have what it takes to make it? Will I ultimately be approved when all is said and done?”

And if we’re honest, ladies, as adult women don’t we face the same kind of things? How many of you, if you’re on Facebook or twitter and you’ve posted a comment or a status, how many of you have gone and checked or double checked or triple checked to see how many responses you got to that Facebook status? Or if you are on twitter, how many of you are keeping track of the number of followers that you have and comparing it maybe to someone else that you respect? Because we’re always looking to see, have we been approved? Do people think we have worth? Do they think that we have value?

It’s as though we enter into every relationship in our life with an empty cup. And we come into the interaction—whether it’s with friends or family members or distant acquaintances like those on Facebook or twitter—we’re asking:

  • "Will you approve me?" 
  • "Do you think I’m worthy?" 
  • "Do you think I have what it takes?"

The problem is, it’s never enough. Each time we hold that empty cup up, it’s as though the cup has little, tiny pinholes in the bottom, and it just constantly flows back out. It’s never enough, and we always need more. There’s always a longing for approval that seems to go unmet in our lives.

That’s why this obscure verse in Romans 16 caught my attention. You can go there if you have your Bibles. We won’t be there long, it’s just one passage. The book of Romans, as you know, is a letter Paul wrote to the Gentile believers. In that letter He is talking about the practical realities, the practical applications of Jesus’ life and His death and His resurrection.

So he goes through all of these. He’s equipping them. He’s teaching them. He’s encouraging them. Then he gets all the way to the end of the book, and in the manner that they wrote in that day, they would put the greetings at the end of the letter and not like we do at the beginning. And so as Paul is signing off on his letter, he says, “Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ” (v. 10). 

The approved. Can you imagine hearing the apostle Paul say that of you? Or even hearing it from someone that you deeply respect and admire in the faith? Can you imagine them calling you “the approved”?

The word “approved” in this context means “properly acceptable, tried and proven, and therefore found genuine.” It’s another way of saying, Paul could have said, “Greet Apelles, the one who is blameless, the one who is faultless, the one who is spotless in God’s eyes. The one who has been declared worthy by the living God.”

I wonder if I were to ask you how you would describe yourself in a word or a phrase today, what you would say. Perhaps you’re in a great place right now and things in your life are going well personally, relationally. Your life seems to be on an upward trajectory and whether you’re a college student, or you’re a grammy, or a young single mom, you might be saying, “You know, my life is just really going well. I feel securely grounded in God’s truth. I have an unwavering commitment to who He is and I’m doing great.” You might describe yourself if you were to insert your name in Paul’s greeting, “Greet Sarah, the courageous, the bold, the confident in Christ Jesus.”

But perhaps some of you are where I have been at times, and it would be far more appropriate to say of you, “Greet Carrie, the discouraged, the struggling, the defeated, the doubting.” Or perhaps, if you were truly honest, you’re the weary one. Maybe you’re a Sunday school teacher or you’re a homeschooling mom or you’re a Bible Study leader, and you’re busy and you’re striving to be good Christian woman, a good Christian wife and mom—unbelievably busy. But if the truth were known, you’re running on empty, and you’re exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.

If you’re able to do so, and those of you here can do that, I invite you to just write down a word or phrase that you would use to describe yourself. Don’t look at your neighbor’s paper. There’s no cheating that will take place in this. If you’re listening in to us today, maybe you’re on the treadmill or maybe you’re driving down the street or you're corralling little toddlers, you just make a mental note of what it is, the word or the phrase that you would use to describe yourself right now.  

And then having noted your thoughts, would you agree with me that perception is often very different than reality? Dennis and I were high school sweethearts. I won’t tell you how many years ago, but a few years ago I went to the mailbox and opened the mailbox and found an invitation to our thirtieth high school class reunion. And literally when I opened the envelope, I thought, This has got to be wrong. There is no way that we’ve been out of high school this long. That’s not possible.

I heard it said of one man who went to his thirtieth high school class reunion and he could not believe all the old people who showed up. Our perceptions are often very different than our realities, aren’t they?

So let me ask you one more question. How do you believe God sees you? If the Savior were writing a personal greeting to you today, how would He describe you? What would He say about who you are? 

The incredible good news is that we don’t have to wonder. Scripture has told us clearly how God sees us. We’ve not been left in the dark. And so, will you turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 2? Over the next several sessions we’re going to be digging down into this passage a little bit deeper.

We find in that particular Scripture a beautiful insight of how God describes those who have placed their faith in Him. There is no sweeter sound in my ear than the turning of the Word of God—the pages of Scripture. I love to hear women digging into the Word of God. I pray that you do that on your own on a regular basis—that you’re in His Word.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but as pleasing God, who examines our hearts.” 

I don’t want us to rush past today the incredible reality that those of us who have placed our faith in Christ’s work—in His life, and in His death, and His resurrection—are approved. We’ve been approved. The word means “We’ve been deemed worthy. We’ve been examined and found genuine.” 

In order to grasp the fullness of that truth, I need you to come with me for a minute on a bit of a Word study journey. I have to confess a strange love affair that I have with word studies. Some of you will understand that, and some of you will think it’s a strange thing. But I love to go deeper into the original meaning of the words in the Scripture and see what they mean. And so often the meaning just explodes in ways that the English translation isn’t able to capture. And this word “approved” in that particular passage is one of those

Now I need you to also know, I know nothing about Greek and Hebrew. Nothing. I simply have learned how to use the tools that have been designed by those who do know the original languages. And you can do the same things. You can do the very same thing. In fact, if you’re looking for a way to get deeper in the study of God’s Word and God is creating a hunger and a thirst in you to do that, I encourage you.

One of the best ways that I know is through inductive Bible studies. One of the best ways that I know to do inductive Bible study is to get connected with Precept Ministries International and learn to do their inductive Bible study that you will find there at Precept.org. So if you’re looking for that, I encourage you to go there and find the resources that will help you to do that.

So back to 1 Thessalonians 2:4 to discover the beauty in the word “approved.” You’ve got to wade with me—just for a moment—into the deep end of some grammatical terms. Okay? And I promise you it will be worth it. I promise.

So let me read 1 Thessalonians 2:4 to you one more time. It says,  "Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.”

In the Greek language, which is the language of the New Testament, the word “approved” is in the perfect tense, the passive voice, and the indicative mood. Now, before I lose all of you, hang with me. It’s worth the effort of what you’re going to see in this.

The perfect tense and some of you who love grammar and English know this. The perfect tense is an action that has been completed in the past at a specific time but it has continuing results into the present. So it happens at a point of time but whatever happens continues into the present. For instance, Dennis and I married one another on April 18, 1981. That’s an event that took place in the past that has continuing results into the present. “Approved” is in the perfect tense.

It’s also in the passive voice which simply means that the subject is acted upon by another outside force or power. So the subject is the recipient or the receiver of the action. So, when something happened in the past that has results into the present, that something that happened was acted upon by an outside force. Dennis and I were married by a pastor. We were acted upon when he did that.

And then the indicative mood simply is a mood of certainty. It states a thing as being a fact. Dennis and I have been married for thirty-two years because we were married on April 18, 1981. Okay? So let me tell you why that is so incredibly important to this word “approved” and so incredibly important in your life today whoever you are and in whatever season of life you are in.

The completed actions of Jesus, His life, His death, His resurrection took place historically at a specific point in time in the past and they have almost unimaginable, practical, life-transforming results that continue into the present of today.

You see, nothing you do will ever gain your approval before God. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing that you don’t do. Some of us are list keepers, and we love to keep the list of what we do and we don’t do so we can measure how well we think we’re doing with God. Your approval before God has nothing to do with what you do or what you don’t do. It has everything to do with the event that took place in the past through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and it has continuing results in your life today. Today!

It means that when we place our faith in Christ we are merely the recipients, the receivers, of what He’s done. He has acted upon us, and we merely receive. We are approved because of what He did. It doesn’t matter how you feel. It doesn’t matter what you think. It is based upon the righteousness of Christ. It is based upon what He has done for you.

It’s incredible my friends. That is the incredible good news of the gospel. This is what we’ve been entrusted with. That’s why 1 Thessalonians. 2:4 says, “Just as we have been approved by God so we’ve been entrusted with the gospel.” Those of us, and it was all of us.

Some of you have adorable little newborns at home. Some of you are grammys and you have the sweetest little grandbabies next to mine that exist in the world. And they are born in sin—every one of them. I have a little two-and-a-half-year-old grandson. And periodically he and grammy rehearse the fact that he’s a sinner. I say, “Joshua, say, ‘I’m a little sinner.’”

He says, “I’m a little sinner.”

And I say, “And say, you and Grammy need Jesus.”

And we say together, “We need Jesus.” Because that’s what’s true.

We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We had no hope apart from God. We were strangers to the covenant of promise. But now, through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we’ve been approved. You’re no longer condemned.

Because of Jesus, you’ve been declared worthy. You’ve been declared blameless and faultless. And that, my friends, regardless of what the voices in your head are telling you today, regardless of what words you wrote down on that paper today, that is what is true of you if you have placed your faith in Christ.  

Think of the ramifications. Think of them in your life, in your family, in your marriage. It means that we don’t have to enter every relationship any longer with an empty cup. We don’t have to come into our friendships and our marriage relationships and our children and with our coworkers extending an empty cup saying, “Do you think I’m okay? Will you approve me?”

We’ve already been approved! So we can walk in that truth confidently, driven not by a consuming need to be validated but motivated by a desire to truly love, to truly give, to truly be able to minister to the needs of others.

Paul says we’ve been "entrusted with the gospel, so we speak” (1 Thess. 2:4) and, “We live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) “not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God" the One who examines (1 Thess 2:4). That word in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 is the exact same word. It’s “approve,” the exact same Greek word—“the One who approves our hearts.”

God has approved your heart. If you have placed your faith in Him, He has already approved it because of what Jesus did, and we’re going to talk more about that in the days ahead. If we are in Christ, my friends, we are approved. We are accepted. It is finished. Imagine the difference that that would have on our lives, on our relationships, in our families, if we truly believed we had been approved by God! 

Nancy: And what a rich truth that is. I’m sitting here thinking, and perhaps this thought crossed your mind. How is it that God, who sees everything in our hearts and knows us perfectly, better than we know ourselves . . .? I mean, we know enough about ourselves that we struggle with approval issues. How can God who knows everything and who is infinitely holy, look at us and say, “I approve”?

Is that not amazing? Well, there’s no way He could say that, as Carrie’s reminded us, apart from what Christ has done. He’s the One who is perfectly approved in God’s eyes because He is perfectly holy.

And we’re going to see in the rest of this series how He has taken our place as those who were unapproved and has let us have the approval that He has by His perfect record. So as someone has said, Christianity is not what we do for God but what God has done for us in Christ to make us approved. Does anybody want to say amen or hallelujah?

Well, thank you so much, Carrie. We want to continue thinking over the next few days, what difference does this make? If we really believed what we’ve just heard and we didn’t just know it in our heads, but we really believed we were approved in Christ, what difference would that make in how we interact with our families, with our friends, in our workplace? What difference would it make? And my prayer is that it will make a huge difference for all of us over these next days.

We want to offer a special resource to our listeners this week that has been an encouragement to myself and many of my friends, and Carrie has mentioned it as something that she’s really appreciated. It’s a book by my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick. It’s called Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time.

This book consists of thirty-one short daily devotionals based on the book of Romans, the first eight chapters of Romans. I’ve been memorizing Romans 8 over the last couple of weeks here. We’re still working on that and will be for a while. But that first verse, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Elyse Fitzpatrick takes us through those first eight chapters of Romans and gives in bite-sized chunks the very kind of teaching you’re hearing from Carrie. So it’s a great way to keep meditating on these truths and to work them into the warp and woof of your daily life.

We’d like to send you a copy of this book if you’ll get in touch of us and make a donation of any size to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. And then just ask for a copy of that book, Comforts from Romans. Those truths really will comfort your heart. We’ll be glad to send that to you. Give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can contact us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Lord, we just thank You for this amazing truth that we are approved in Christ. And may that change the way we think, the way we live, the way we interact. We pray it with thanksgiving, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking with our guest teacher, Carrie Gaul. The book Nancy mentioned, Comforts from Romans, will be available when you donate any amount all this week. Let us hear from you by June 13.

You can see this teaching with Carrie along with hearing it. As Carrie taught this radio series, our team captured the video, as well. This series includes some powerful images like the robe of righteousness and the wrath absorber. Each day you’ll find a new video posted at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today, Carrie showed us how we’re approved before God because of what Christ has done. Tomorrow she’ll show you how that works out practically in real life. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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