Healing from Approval Addiction

Gary Wilkerson

We have become a society of people who crave approval. Sadly, this dependence on external validation for our success also exists within the church. I speak to pastors all over the world. As a pastor myself I know that we have a big problem with this. “If the church reaches 500 or 1,000, when we're in the new building, when the budget is strong — then I'll be successful and happy.” Laypeople have the same trouble. Life has become all about the externals.

There is now a disorder informally called social media validation. People get depressed because they compare their following to someone else’s, or they have a false sense of pride over having more followers than their friends. These are relational sins of measuring our worth by the approval of others. That insatiable hunger is powered by the need to repair inner wounds. We say, “I’m broken, and external validation will fix me.”

What truly meets our needs, though, is holiness, living in loving relationship with God and with other people. For that to happen, we must rebuild our lives on our relationship with our Creator. We must relocate the house from the sand to the rock and redefine the meaning of life. Life is love not fame, generosity not conceit or power. It isn’t Facebook likes; it’s living in friendship and intimacy with people we care about.

When people seek professional help with drug addiction, they are first sent through detox. Drugs have caused their brains to release too much dopamine, which gives them a sense of tremendous well-being. They have become addicted to that high and have placed their health and lives at risk.

Studies show the same thing happens with social media. When we get likes on a post, our brain gets a dopamine hit, and we immediately want more. Consequently, just like with other addictions, when we are hooked on external validation, we need to go through a spiritual detox.

It won’t happen overnight. It's a long journey of walking with God and learning to look to him for our worth. We find true contentment when we learn who he meant us to be and when we discover our gifts and use them for his glory. Our loving God cherishes us and places great value on our lives. He wants us to truly enjoy the journey.

Staying Clear of Spiritual Fentanyl

Jim Cymbala

I just saw this statistic that 37 percent of all the pastors in America polled say that if you live a good life, you’ll go to heaven.

Now, if we look at Galatians, we read, “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4, NIV). If you go with the law and try to earn it, you are severed from Christ. Christ is not an addendum to your efforts to be accepted by God by the works of the law.

Paul also wrote, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’” (Galatians 5:7-9). A little bad teaching will work its way through the body of Christ and have a leavening effect of spoiling everything. By the way, that’s true in our own lives too. If you permit anything of the enemy, the world, the flesh to come into your life, it’ll lead you down a dark road you don’t want to go on.

Adding anything to Christ demeans the cross and cuts you off from Christ. It can’t be Christ plus anything. Paul went on to say, “The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty” (Galatians 5:10). I want you to notice how serious this is. Someone who brings false doctrine into a church, that’s like dealing spiritual fentanyl. That affects a lot of people.

We live in a day of “I’m okay; you’re okay. Let’s not argue. Just try your best. The good Lord loves everyone.” Totally bogus. Remember, you add anything to Jesus, and you’ve cut yourself off from the source of salvation. Stay close to the Lord. Doctrine is important. What you believe is going to control how you live and your eternity.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.

God Is Able to See You Through

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The most important question facing God's people in these last days is “Do you believe God is able to see you through? Do you believe he can do all that is necessary to answer your prayers and meet your needs?”

Jesus asked these same questions when he was on the earth. In Matthew 9, before healing two blind men who begged him for mercy, he tested their faith. “‘Do you believe I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were opened…” (Matthew 9:28-30 NKJV).

Today, he reminds us that our faith and trust in him turn the tide. “Do you believe I can direct and guide you and am still at work on your behalf? Or do you harbor secret thoughts that I have forsaken you and let you down?”

God is not primarily interested in us doing some great work for him. Rather, he wants us to simply trust him. He desires full dependence on him.

God doesn’t want our possessions either. He is not after your house, your land, your car, or any other worldly belongings. He wants your trust! He wants you to be firmly established in your confidence in him. An American soldier in Germany once wrote to me. He offered me his coin collection because he felt it was an idol in his life, and he thought getting rid of it would free him. I wrote him back and said, “God wants more than your coin collection. He wants your trust.”

We keep wanting to do things, to give up things, to sacrifice, work and suffer, when all the while what God desires most is our obedience and trust. His Word is clear that he will be pleased with nothing short of our faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

God has not forsaken you. Your prayers have been heard, and he will work things out according to his perfect will. Have faith and hold on!

Precious in His Sight

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I have always told my children, “When you're in need, when you're hurting, just call me. I'll be there! I don't care where I am, I'll come!” If I as an earthly father love my children this much, just think how much more our heavenly Father cares. Will he not respond when we call?

The Word of God says, “For he will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in his sight” (Psalm 72:12-14 NKJV).

It is crucial to our heavenly Father that every one of his children, his creation, knows this. “All of you who are poor, in dire need and undergoing attacks from the enemy, your blood is precious to me. All you have to do is cry out, and I will deliver you!”

Psalm 34 is a beautiful account by David of God’s tender care of him through desperately hard times. He sums it up in verse 6: “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:6).

You don't have to know a lot of religious terms. The one thing you must know is that no matter what you've done, what you’re going through, or how wicked you may have been, you will always be precious in his eyes. Christ said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Why is he knocking? Because your life is priceless, and he won't let you go. He doesn't come to push you around, but time and time again he'll come and speak to your heart. “Call on me now in your need,” he whispers.

You may have been in churches where people condemned you and put you down. All they did was judge you by what you looked like on the outside. God doesn't ever do that. He sees your potential. He'll give you joy and beauty in place of dirt and ashes. He will set you free!

Obedience Opens the Floodgates

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

It was said of Christ that he was obedient to his heavenly Father, not because of fear but because of the joy that was set before him. He laid aside all weights and ran the race with patience. He endured shame and never fainted or wearied in his mind because he saw the glorious rewards of obedience.

You would think we would get so tired of our inner turmoil that we would start to hunger after the riches promised in Christ. But fear is not always the best motivator; love is! After all, divine threats were continually ignored by the children of Israel. Even God's audible voice and his frightful thunder could not keep them from dancing around the golden calf. Only a deep, abiding love and reverence could have kept them from such disobedience.

It is the sweet surrender to the will of God which opens the heavens to us and guides us into the revelation of who he is. The scriptures say, "Whoever abides in him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen him nor known him" (1 John 3:6 NKJV). Could it be that by living in disobedience we become distant from God? Do we want to go our own way because we have never had a revelation of Christ, his hatred of sin and his glory and mercy? Yes! Simply put, the person who lives in disobedience has never truly seen Christ.

Jesus said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

What greater reward could we want than having Christ reveal himself to us? “Love me enough to obey me,” he beckons. “I will love you and will show you who I am!" You might read all about him — even study his nature and historical background — but you will never get to know him until you take the simple, basic step of obeying him completely in all things.

The very moment we surrender, a marvelous healing power is released in our inner man. No more dread of God or hell or retribution. No more fear of what other people can do to us. Instead, the Spirit of God begins to flood us with new hope, great joy, glorious peace and abounding faith.