The Applause of One
Day 213: An Audience of One
Galatians 1:10 (AV) — 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
There is a very well-known story told of a young boy in Austria giving his first violin recital. He had studied hard for years under the guidance of one of the greatest masters in all of Europe. The boy had tremendous talent, and he had learned his lessons well. As he stood on the stage before an audience of hundreds of lovers of good music, he performed with confidence and skill. Following each piece, the crowd cheered loudly. He was one of the finest young performers they had ever had to pleasure of hearing. And yet the boy seemed not to notice their expressions of approval. In fact, some later commented that he almost seemed annoyed by the applause.
At the conclusion of the recital, the entire audience rose as one to give the young performer a standing ovations. They shouted “Bravo” and “Encore!” and other words of praise and appreciation. However, the young musician seemed not even to hear them. Instead, he stood looking up into the balcony where an old, withered man sat looking back down at him. Finally, the old gentleman smiled and nodded his head in approval. Only then did the lad seem to relax, and his face beamed with joy. You see, the cheers of the crowd meant nothing unless he had the approval of the master! It was only the latter that this young performer sought! --Al Maxey, The Aloha Spirit
VALUE, v. t. val´u. To estimate the worth of; to rate at a certain price; to apprize1
1 Webster, Noah. Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language. 2006: n. pag. Print.
How do we esteem the approval of our peers? Do we feel as if their applause accepts us, or our work is nothing if they do not confirm? Paul understood the dangerous idol man’s approval presented, and from the onset of his letter to the Galatians, affirms his allegiance to the approval and applause of only One: God. We have One to please. We should not feel as if we’ve achieved anything unless our Heavenly Father is pleased with what we’ve done.
But our Heavenly Father isn’t a hard-to-please violin teacher or an over-bearing father. He also doesn’t pass out participation trophies. He does reward crowns to those who have sought Him after the proper manner. So what pleases God?
Hebrews 11:6 (AV) — 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
One person said, “Faith is trusting the Man who died for you.” It is relying on not only His provision for salvation but His leading in every area of our lives. It is as Spurgeon said, “Trusting His heart when I cannot trace His hand.”
Walking after the Spirit
Romans 8:8 (AV) — 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Walking after the Spirit is learning that we are completely and utterly incapable of leading our lives according to our wills.
Proverbs 1:23 (AV) — 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
It responds to the Spirit’s call to “Stop what you are doing and do what I say.” It is waiting on God to reveal His will in any matter. It is trusting that He will make His will known.
Abounding in the Spirit
1 Thessalonians 4:1 (AV) — 1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
To abound means to have or possess in great quantity. In other words, we are to continue our walk by faith after the Spirit as He leads us further and further into His will. By the time the journey is made, we will have the applause of One.
Matthew 25:23 (AV) — 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
So how do we value the praise of men over the praise of God? Their applause can turn to attack in an instant. The recognition of men is only temporary, but the approval of God is an everlasting reward.
David Brainerd said this to Jonathan Edwards:
“I do not go to heaven to be advanced but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high or low seat there, but to live and please and glorify God.… My heaven is to please God and glorify Him, and give all to Him, and to be wholly devoted to His glory.”