Are you trying to get someone's approval? Perhaps there's a boss you're attempting to please in anticipation of getting that big promotion. Maybe it's a relative or friend you're trying to win over, or even a teacher who you feel can ''make or break'' your educational ambitions. Perhaps you've tried time after time to gain this individual's approval but to no avail. What next?
The Bible gives us the answer in very clear, precise terms when it states, ''Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.'' n1 Many have proved that when they are obedient to the first commandment, ''Thou shalt have no other gods before me'' n2 - when they put pleasing God first in their lives - harmony results.
n1 II Timothy 2:15.
n2 Exodus 20:3.
The need is to ask ourselves not, ''What will so-and-so think if I do this or say that?'' but rather, ''What qualities should I endeavor to live each day that will most glorify God? Are my thoughts, motives, and ambitions centered on uplifting myself and mankind to a more spiritual, Christlike outlook, or are they selfish and materialistic? Am I expressing joy and gratitude for God's ever-present love?''
By studying the Biblical accounts of Christ Jesus' life, we can tell which qualities are truly Godlike and lasting, and which characteristics we need to dispense with. Those we can do without are not a real part of our nature to begin with, because our actual selfhood is spiritual, the image of the one God, Spirit, and expresses the goodness of God.
Jesus showed compassion, humility, self-sacrifice, obedience, and wisdom. There was no mad ambition, no desire for popularity, no self-seeking pride. Striving to live a God-centered, divinely-directed life in harmony with his example lifts us out of a sense of dependence on a particular person to a realization that God's law is supreme and that He provides only good for His creation. We begin to see that Christian obedience to His law must bless us, regardless of circumstances.
This was proved in my husband's business experience. At one time I was invited to a Christmas buffet given by the wives of his bosses. When it was noted that I was not drinking the eggnog containing an alcoholic beverage, the hostess appeared quite offended and commented, ''I don't know how you and your husband expect to get ahead in this company. It is imperative that you drink to do so. Everyone I know who has made it does.''
I remember immediately thinking that our abstinence from alcohol could not lead to bad results. We were following Principle, God, and taking this stand could only bless us.
During the following year I often prayerfully acknowledged the Godlike qualities my husband was expressing and knew that these could be seen and acknowledged by those around him. It was his intelligence, high moral standard, orderliness, creativity, wisdom, kindness, and goodness that would lead to promotion, not whether or not he drank or smoked, or even whether he played golf with ''the boys.''
We both held to the spiritual truth of God's ever-present, wise government of His creation. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear.'' n3
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 506.
Before long my husband did receive an advancement, but it wasn't the normal one usually received by those in his position. He ended up actually skipping a step into an advanced staff assignment regularly filled by someone with more experience. In addition, we were sent to a desirable area requested by many others. We had been praying to follow God's will, not our own - attempting to glorify Him, not self - and we were blessed.
The icing on the cake, however, came when my husband was first introduced by his new boss at a meeting of all the employees. ''This is the new staff member, '' he said, ''and one of the reasons I picked him for this position is that not only does he not smoke, which I don't like, but he doesn't drink either!'' DAILY BIBLE VERSE Do I seek to please men? . . . if I pleased men, I should not be the servent of Christ Galatians 1:10