Steven Furtick - You Don't Need Their Approval
This is an excerpt from: The Secret Scoreboard
I have to get to the point where I don't need validation from people to do what's right because it's according to my values. You don't give so people will see you. Jesus isn't saying that you have to write your checks in a closet and put it in the mail and no one can ever know and don't get your tax-exempt status when you give. Jesus is saying if that is your reason, then that will be your reward. Your reason determines your reward. If the reason I'm doing it is to be seen, then that's my reward. If they see me and if they say I did it good, then that's my reward, but if I have a deeper reason, then I have a greater reward. Here's the game changer for me.
I have this Sunday school way that I see the Bible sometimes that messes me up. I imagine stuff. Like when it says "your reward in heaven" or "your reward from your Father," I always used to picture a corner of heaven where there were pots of gold. It was more like Lucky Charms and leprechauns than the Bible. It was like these big rewards in heaven, treasures in heaven, but I'm probably not going to need gold in heaven, because up there it's called gravel. There's not a monetary… It's like V-Bucks in heaven, so it's not going to really buy anything.
Now I'm realizing that this is not a passage about "Hey, give, and then when you get to heaven it's going to be like your Uber is going to be a Maybach". It's not about getting this reward in another place; it's about getting it from another place. "Then your Father…" This was the key to unlocking the Scripture for me. It said he sees what is done in secret. That used to scare me. "Oh, God is watching me all the time". Now I see that it means he's keeping score, and that means nobody else gets to. When I live that way, there is a certain validation that only comes from him and living according to the values he has given to me, and the world can't give that.
When I'm not living in alignment with that, then I get the car and the car is my reward. When the smell of the car is gone, then so is the thrill of owning it. If I do it for people, then I have to get it from people. One Scripture I like to think about when I'm having a pity party is one time when Paul was talking about preaching the gospel. In certain situations Paul would say, "Don't pay me. I don't want any money from you. I want something from God". He wasn't always doing that, but when he explained it to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 9 he goes, "Hey, I have nothing to brag about. I preach because I'm compelled". In other words, "God called me to do this, so I almost have to do it".
If I do it out of obligation, then it's just a discharge, but if I do it like it's a privilege, then it's a reward. The revelation for me was that my reason determines my reward. If I'm doing this for you, then you hold my reward, but if I'm doing this for him… It applies in every area of life. It applies to giving. Jesus said, "I didn't come to abolish the law; I came to fulfill it". That's what he means by the game changer. "I didn't come to play the game a little better, keep the law a little better, like put more on top of it. I came to change the reason you do it".
One of those things is giving. In the Old Testament you would see an obligatory system of giving where I bring the tithe because I have to or else I'm under a curse, so I bring God the firstfruits of my produce and the firstfruits of all of my increase because I have to. It is obligation-oriented. That's how most of us live. But grace changes the game. Jesus said, "I didn't come to abolish it but to fulfill it". In other words, "I came to give you a different reason".
Now it's not that I'm doing it because I have to; I'm doing it because of the grace of God. It's a shift in perspective. Sometimes you keep doing the same things, but you find a deeper reason to do it, and then you find meaning in your life. If you're not careful, you run around all your life changing the things you do, but you find no meaning in the things, because as long as you have shallow reasons you get empty victories, but when your reason gets deeper, when you start saying, "You know what? I'm giving to God. I'm serving God, not because I have to or not because people might notice or not because I'm going to go to hell if I don't, but just he has been good to me, just because I know my Redeemer lives. That's why…" "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you".
Whatever is your reason controls your reward. Do you believe that? Do you believe that if you have a devotion just so you can post on Instagram that you had it with a picture of your coffee mug sitting next to Colossians 3:7… Do you believe me that if that's why you did it that's what you get out of it? When it only gets 12 "likes" don't cry, because I preached Matthew 6:1-4 and I told you that if that is your reason then that is your reward. I see it like a game show in my mind. "Tell them what they've won"! It's like, "Absolutely nothing"! Because you did it for the reason… People will go, "I left that church". "Why did you leave that church"? "Because I got burned". "Were you in the cooking ministry? Let me see the scar. Is it nasty"?
I get it. We get hurt, but sometimes the reason we got hurt is because in our heart what we needed from people was too much, and we shouldn't have been doing it for people to begin with. Oh, the applause died down by 73 percent. It always happens when you challenge the values. I noticed a trend in my preaching a couple of years ago that bothered me, so I've been working on it. I was preaching a sort of theology that was a little perverted in this way, not on purpose but you just shift toward it.
You say, "If you will, God will" and "God is gonna…" and you fill in the blanks. Like, "If you obey God in this area of your life it will produce a blessing". It was a cause and effect. What I'm coming to understand is while that's true on the surface the real blessing is built into the process. The real blessing is built in. When he says, "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you give," that means it ought to be so automatic because you've operated out of your values to the point… Like these guitar players. When they play, they don't have to think about… (I would play y'all "Talk Dirty to Me" by Poison, but that's not appropriate for church.
That's the first song I learned, though. That's what I think about when I see an electric guitar.) They do this with the right hand, and this with the left hand, but they don't… See, these hands… If I've done that enough, this hand is going…and this hand is going…and the left hand… What is this? "Glycerine" by Bush, I think I'm playing, of all the songs. Child of the 90s. If you've done it enough, it's not even a thing. Jesus said, "I would like for you to get to the point where my grace has changed you enough that you don't have to think about it or pray about it". "God, should I give to further your gospel in the earth? I just need a sign".
How about your common sense? So he challenges my values. That's what I've always loved about this moment in our church when we are getting ready to give or when we're calling people to serve. It changes the game. When your intention in coming here is in what you get, then that's your reward. When your intention in coming is to give something that God put inside of you, you are no longer dependent on people, and that's the blessing. The blessing is built into the process. I think we need to take our scoreboard back. I think we've adopted the world's values in some ways that have caused us to win some victories that are empty. "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you".
Not with pots of gold in heaven, not with V-Bucks and cookies, digital cookies, cookies made of pixels, compliments from people and empty status that can be here one day and gone the next. When you have crappy values you will never have lasting joy. Popularity is a crappy value. That's in the Greek: crappy values. Position is a crappy value. "I'm going to work my way up". Excavation before elevation. Pleasure is a crappy value. It's a great by-product. It's not bad to feel good and enjoy stuff, but when that's the goal of the game it's a terrible value. When my values are shallow my victories are empty.
So I want God to run my scoreboard. How about you? I need that. Come on, I need that. It's too stressful. Life is too stressful. Too many people have too many different opinions, and there's too much to keep up with, and I can't do it anymore. So I want my Father who sees what is done in secret to keep score for me. I want him to make the decision. "Was that good? Am I a good dad today"?
I certainly can't ask my kids what they think about that. I can't, because what I will need to do to be a good parent in some seasons will mean sometimes I am not popular, but if I'm parenting according to purpose, if I'm living according to purpose, I don't have to consult all of these other sources. Say this out loud: "God is my source, and he is my reward. God is my source, and he is my reward. God is my source, and he is my reward". Now clap your hands if you want to live that way.