When the legendary composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) was young, a hunger for approval drove him toward success. Warren Wiersbe wrote of him: “When Verdi produced his first opera in Florence, the composer stood by himself in the shadows and kept his eye on the face of one man in the audience—the great Rossini. It mattered not to Verdi whether the people in the hall were cheering him or jeering him; all he wanted was a smile of approval from the master musician.”
Whose approval do we seek? A parent’s? A boss’s? A love interest’s? For Paul, there was but one answer. He wrote, “We speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
What does it mean to seek God’s approval? At the very least, it involves two things: turning from the desire for the applause of others and allowing His Spirit to make us more like Christ—the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. As we yield to His perfect purposes in us and through us, we can anticipate a day when we will experience the smile of His approval—the approval of the One who matters most.
Whose approval do you find yourself seeking and why is their validation so important to you? How could God’s approval satisfy even more deeply?
For further study, read Living an Authentic Christian Life at discoveryseries.org/hp111.
On his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36–18:22), Paul wanted to preach the gospel in Asia Minor and Bithynia (modern western and northern Turkey), but God redirected him northwest into Europe via Troas through “a vision of a man of Macedonia” (16:6–12). Paul preached in Thessalonica (northern Greece), the second European city evangelized (after Philippi), for about a month (17:2). After starting a church there, he left because of persecution (vv. 5–10), but he was deeply concerned for the infant church. After trying unsuccessfully to return (1 Thessalonians 2:17–18), he sent Timothy to visit the church (3:1–5). Timothy reported that it was thriving—standing firm in Christ despite persecution (vv. 6–8)—but he also shared concerns about immoral behavior and erroneous beliefs concerning Christ’s return (4:1–18). In response, Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians to commend the church for being “a model to all the believers” and for their “faith in God” (1:7–8).