They loved praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:43)

GROWING UP I SOUGHT to please my parents. Yet the approval I desperately needed didn’t come. My mom was sick a lot, so from the time I was four, I stood on milk crates to help her wash dishes and iron clothes. I worked hard in school to make good grades and achieve success. I strived in a sales career more for recognition than compensation. My desire for acceptance led to unmet expectations and disappointments.

In my despair, I turned to God and discovered that my approval rating went up when I worked to please Him more than when I tried to please man.

Some of Jesus’ followers would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue by the Pharisees. Oddly, Jesus had strong words for the Pharisees—hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, blind guides. As soon as I ask myself, “Why would Jesus’ followers be intimidated by them?” I think of myself and how I enjoyed the temporary praise from people more than God.

Trusting God brought me the acceptance I needed, instead of the fickle and short-lived praise of my peers. God gave me the confidence to stand for truth and honor even when I stood alone. But I know I am never alone, for He is always with me, giving me strength and courage.

Choose today to please God and not man.

Sue Tornai lives with her husband, John, and dog, Maggie, in northern California. She teaches elementary Sunday school and leads a Christian writers group.