October 9: “Living for Heaven’s Applause”

8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Jeremiah 12:1–14:10
1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:8
Psalm 79:1-13
Proverbs 24:30-34

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 (NLT): “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.”

Reflections from Scripture:

All of us crave affirmation to one extent or another. We love to get a pat on the back, applause, or simply a word of recognition in response to something we did.

I fondly remember sitting in the baseball bleachers a few years ago, probably a couple hundred times as I watched my three sons play baseball. I loved to clap and cheer when they struck a batter out or hit the ball and made it past 1st base. Then, periodically, I’d notice that they would take a quick look in my direction and smile. It meant a lot to them that their dad was recognizing their accomplishments and celebrating them.

That’s relatively innocent when children desire the affirmation of others. But as we grow into adults, it becomes problematic. It’s something that we can enjoy, but we shouldn’t crave. Just listen to Paul’s words again.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 (NLT): “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.”

Why is it wrong to be motivated by the affirmation of others? Here are a few reasons:

  • If we crave the applause of our peers, we won’t get Heaven’s applause (Matthew 6:1).
  • Craving the applause of others set them up as our primary audience, not God. So, who are we really living for?
  • Craving the applause of others will cause us to “perform” only when we will be seen and recognized. We won’t be as motivated to do what is right when no one is watching.
  • Craving the applause of others sets our audience up to determine what gets applauded and what doesn’t. So, we will be compelled to step away from what the Bible celebrates to focus on doing what sinful humanity approves.
  • Craving the applause of others can be used by our sinful hearts to use our audience for our selfish purposes. We will do what they like so they can be compelled to give us what we want from them. Our motives are therefore self-centered and impure.

On and on we could go about the dangers of living for the applause of others. It’s OK if others applaud us. In fact, it is appropriate that we celebrate some things in this life. 

Yet, we have to be so careful not to let the applause of others be our motivation for why we do what we do. Having that mindset will take us down some dangerous roads.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to do everything I do for Your applause. Help me to see the dangers of living for the affirmation of people. Sure, I like it when people applaud me but let me never do what I do in order to get that applause. I genuinely want to live for You. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Hayley Seibel on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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