As the Sermon On the Mount progresses, Jesus addresses a condition we know all too well in the age of social media and instant communication–obsession with the approval of others. How many friends do we have? How many followers? How many likes? Why haven’t they texted back? Do they think I’m a bad person? How can I improve my image? Does anyone even see me over here?
Let’s start by answering that last question with a resounding “Yes!” God sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves. He created us in His image and loves us so much that He sent Jesus to redeem us–even from our ability to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. We can give to those in need only so that others will praise our generosity. We can pray only so that others will see our commitment. We can fast only so that others are impressed by our piety. We can make it all about us even when we’re trying to make it all about others. But Jesus calls us to a different way of living, a way that does the right things for the right reasons, a way obsessed only with the approval of our God, who is actually able to satisfy our deepest longings. He calls us to a life of genuine faith, one where our generosity reflects our God’s, one where our prayers seek His will, and one where, in our fasting, we are satisfied in Him.
The approval of people is fleeting, but God never leaves or forsakes those He loves. The opinions of people might be shifting, but God never changes. And that leaves each of us with a choice today. We can either chase the moving target of others’ approval or walk in the steadfast love of our God. Let’s choose the way that allows us to give without expecting anything in return and promises the reward of our loving Father.