Whose Approval Is Important to You, God or Man?

The Epistle of Galatians

A young man once studied violin under a world-renowned master. Eventually, the time came for the student’s first recital. Following each selection, despite the cheers of the crowd, the performer seemed dissatisfied. Even after the last number, with the shouts louder than ever, the talented violinist stood watching an old man in the balcony. Finally, the elderly one smiled and nodded in approval. Immediately the young man relaxed and beamed with happiness. You see, the man in the balcony was his teacher, and thus the applause of the crowd had meant nothing to him until he had first won the hearty approval of his master. 1 Are you seeking the approval of your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ?

Persuading Men or God?

Galatians 1:10 (NKJV) — 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.

  • The question Paul asks in today’s post is simply this, whose approval are you seeking?
  • That’s what the Greek word ‘persuade’ means in the New King James.
  • It’s a word used to seek acceptance from someone as being satisfactory.
  • The more precise meaning in this context is, “to win over, to conciliate and render friendly to one’s self.” 2
  • There are always two ‘approval’ choices, God or men.
  • The question you and I have to ask ourselves is whom am I trying to please or win over with my life’s choices?

Matthew 27:20 (NKJV) — 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

  • The same word is used in Matthew 27:20 where the religious leaders sought the approval of the crowd in the matter of substituting Barabbas for Jesus at His trial.
  • Later on, as Jesus hung on the cross, these same religious leaders mocked Jesus with this same Greek word.

Persuaded Is Translated as Trust

Matthew 27:43 (NKJV) — 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

  • The King James translates the word ‘persuaded’ as trusted.
  • So from this, we can gather that seeking the approval of God is also a way of trusting in God.
  • In several places in the New Testament, the translators used this same bridge.
  • The highlighted word in each of the following verses shows this same word ‘persuaded’ as ‘trusted’ or ‘believed’.

Mark 10:24 (NKJV) — 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

Luke 11:22 (NKJV) — 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.

Luke 18:9 (NKJV) — 9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Acts 17:4 (KJV) — 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Acts 28:24 (KJV) — 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

2 Corinthians 1:9 (KJV) — 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Persuaded Is Translated As Obey

  • There’s yet another way this word has been translated, that is the word ‘obey’.
  • Note, the following verses.

Acts 5:36–37 (KJV) — 36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

Romans 2:8 (KJV) — 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Galatians 3:1 (KJV) — 1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

  • So, you can see that being ‘persuaded’ or ‘seeking approval’ has within it the elements of ‘trust’ and ‘obedience’.
  • You trust because you are persuaded.
  • You obey because you are persuaded.
  • Do you trust God with your life?
  • Are you obeying Him in the things He has asked of your life?
  • Are trusting and obeying Him because you are wanting to hear Him say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant?’

Who Called You?

  • The world is full of opinion.
  • Everyone has one about everything.
  • If you don’t believe it just ask.
  • Some have allowed peoples opinions to sway them from their God given calling.
  • God specifically spoke to a person and unveiled to them a portion of Gods plan for their lives.
  • It’s something each of us individually has to discern.

Romans 12:1–2 (KJV) — 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  • You have to ‘prove’ out what is the will of God for your life.
  • The word ‘prove’ is a verb, an active thing which each member of the body of Christ has to engage.
  • The word means to judge to be right or commendable; think well of.
  • Individually, we have to find God’s will.
  • We have to understand what is right in His eyes for us.
  • We have to know what is commendable to God, what He thinks well of on our part.
  • When we know God’s will and act on it, we have His approval.
  • The question is, once we have it are we going to allow the world of opinion to alter what we know to be right?
  • It happens in the world of men.
  • We hear from God and we hear from man about what we heard from God.
  • Sometimes the opinions we hear are contrary opinions.
  • There’s disagreement.
  • What we need to hone in on in these cases is this question.
  • Who called you?
  • Whose approval are you seeking?
  • We can further add to that.
  • Who will you give account to at the end?
  • The question Paul asks ‘Am I seeking man’s approval or God’s approval is a guiding question for a wise man.
  • It’s a question you will have to answer in the face of contrary opinion, contrary winds, and contrary circumstances.

Call to Action:

Who are you trusting and who are you obeying? If you are seeking man’s approval, then you are trusting in man. If you are seeking man’s approval, then your obedience is toward man. If in your life, you or I are hearkening to men instead of God, then we are both in a mess.

Question: How has seeking only God’s approval instead of man’s approval impacted your life? Please share your thoughts or testimony in the comments section below.


  1. Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 24.
  2. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ga 1:10.