Warning: Dangerous Curve Ahead

Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

My test was returned and the grade on it may have reflected my level of knowledge but not my level of desire to see a better grade on my report card. This happened more times than I'd like during my academic career. Occasionally, my teacher would blow in on the wind of grace and offer to "scale the grades". What a glorious moment. Hope immediately sprang into my heart that a higher grade was possible. At other times, my instructor would shake his head and determine that someone had actually dared to learn the material and there was nowhere to curve the grades to for those of us living up to less than our potential. Do you ever feel like life is graded on the curve? It's as if there's a grand master grade sheet and as long as you can garner enough points to get an "A" or maybe even a "C", you're doing okay.

In this morning's passage, Jesus is addressing the ultimate curve-busters, the local religious leaders, who had gotten their feathers quite ruffled by Jesus choosing to heal someone on the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath was the day that Jews reserved for going to the temple and rest. This practice was given in the laws originally by Moses but had been expanded significantly with additional non-Scriptural requirements by various Jewish leadership over the course of time. Healing someone on the Sabbath certainly did not hold with their view of how a committed Jew should behave (Verses 8-16) and would not earn an "A" on any grading scale. When questioned why he had acted in this manner, Jesus responded with a lengthy explanation and earnest plea for the leader's hearts which is documented in Verses 19-47. The focus of my thoughts today is the 44th Verse. Here Jesus inquires, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another (people), yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"

This question pierces my heart because I know all-to-often I fall to the temptation to grade on the curve. When I begin comparing myself to others in any area of my life such as appearance, social status or spirituality, I take my focus off of God and place it squarely on myself. Thoughts such as if I were only as thin as ________ or I'm so glad my kids aren't like ________ flood my mind. Whether these assessments could be characterized as positive or negative is not the issue, it's the fact that under these assessments, the real question I'm asking myself is, "Do I meet with the approval of people?" Quietly, Jesus whispers to me that His approval is the one needed. It is not earned or dependent on any number from my weight to my IQ but rather His unending devotion to me. The cry of His heart today is simply to be with me. He's not embarrassed when my kids act crazy at the grocery store nor is He impressed when I shimmy into one dress size smaller. He just loves and awaits my love in return. Jesus, today may I seek only Your praise by letting my mind linger on you.

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