Galatians 1:10 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. New King James Version (NKJV)
A New Jersey woman who has denied charges she allowed her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth has gained national attention for her own increasingly copper complexion, prompting a suggestion that she suffers from “tanerexia.”
This is one of those headline stories where you are not sure whether to laugh, cry or both. You may want to laugh when you read that we have created yet another term to describe some type of malady called “tanerexia”. You might want to cry when you see pictures of the lady in this story. You may also cry when you here that she involved her 5-year-old daughter in this tanning bed obsession. You may want to laugh and cry when you accept that this is what our world is all about.
Our sinful nature tells us that it is all about me and serving my self interest. This nature promotes our desire to be god without any boundaries or limits upon my behavior. This approach feeds the attitude of “Hey, it’s my body; I can do with it what I want.” In turn the world system consistently feeds us the message that it is more important how we appear on the outside rather than how we are doing on the inside. This culture and mindset encourages and reinforces an “image management” system.
This image management system is reinforced by the approval and validation of man. One of the many problems with this system is what gains approval today will not work tomorrow. We are left with chasing the dangling carrot of man’s approval that never satisfies. When we fail to gain man’s approval through our outward appearance, we experience disappointment and emptiness. Another consequence of this system is that there is always constant pressure to be “on” or perform at the next level. Whether it is gaining the ultimate tan or climbing the corporate ladder, the pressure is always there to perform.
Many of the sexual addicts I counsel, struggle with the fear of failure and approval addiction. Sexual sin begins in the fantasy world of our minds. In the fantasy world there is no pressure to perform or losing someone’s approval. In other words, no one ever fantasizes about failure and rejection. The fantasy world of sexual sin becomes a place where the addict can escape the pressures of life with no fear of rejection.
In Galatians 1:10, Paul described seeking the approval of man or the approval of God. When we seek the approval of man then we become a bond servant to their approval. Prior to his conversion, Paul had the perfect image. When you read his credentials as a Jew, they were impeccable. He must have received much approval and validation from the peers of his day. This drive to gain more approval may have been the force behind his persecution of Christians. Following his conversation, he was given the validation and approval of God. He did not gain this through his performance or his pedigree. This validation and approval was a gift from God through the redemptive works of His Son. You see, as a Christian, we no longer have to seek the approval of man through image or performance, because we already have it from God. We no longer have to seek the counterfeit refuge of the fantasy world of sexual sin. We no longer have to be bound to image management and the approval of man.
Jesus truly came to set the captives free. Free from the worldly system of image management. Free from the fears of rejection and failure. Free from the counterfeit world of sexual sin. Free to receive his gift of love and acceptance.
I do not know the lady in the story nor do I know the details of her life. You may have laughed at her because of her appearance but she is no different than the rest of us. We manage images. Are you ready to take off that mask? Are you ready to stop chasing the approval of the world?