ANIMAL trainers have proved that reward for good behavior gets quicker and better results than punishment for misdeeds. It's easy to understand why. Evidently even the animal heart yearns for approval! Praise for accomplishment can encourage further achievement in people as well. On the other hand, approval withheld can, at times, be a near disaster. The need for approval is a basic need of people everywhere. It's the need to be loved.
Human emotion can be selfish, undependable. One can't feel truly loved without some understanding of God, the source of all love. Christian Science doesn't teach that we must give up human love; rather we need to purify our sense of it. As we do, we'll see ourselves as more loved -- and as loving others more.
Someone's approval of the good we do signifies, in some measure, the love God has for us. Similarly, God impels in us the gratitude we feel for the good someone else does. When seen in this light -- as an outcome of God's love for what He creates -- proper appreciation for one another is a very right thing.
Lack of human approval, however, isn't a denial of God's care. Often the world fails to give proper credit to those who are most worthy. That's why we need to be certain of our motives. Christ Jesus didn't seek public acclaim as proof of his goodness; his actions were meant to please God, not popular opinion.
Christian Science explains that God's man, as exemplified by Jesus, lacks nothing. He is complete, eternally embraced in the love of our Father-Mother God. This man -- the true, spiritual identity of each of us -- is the man referred to in the Bible as created in God's image and likeness. He is therefore perfect, as God is, and so exists above the need for human approval.
As we learn more of our true identity as spiritually perfect, we begin to give up those unhappy misconceptions that so often plague us when we see ourselves as imperfect mortals, deprived of God's love. We are alert to deny space in our thoughts to self-depreciation. We begin to express more of our conscious worth.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.''1 Once we accept the ``nothing else can'' part, our quest for human approval is transformed into the challenge of gaining a better sense of our conscious worth.
How do we do this? There are many ways. We can, for example, learn to exercise our God-given dominion, which enables us to cast out all forms of weakness, including self-condemnation. We can refuse to take on false responsibility, which so often cloaks a need for human approval. Above all, we can learn to identify ourselves more consistently as the loved child of God.
No one saw more clearly his true worth than Christ Jesus. He was so aware of his status as the Son of God that he could say with confidence, ``I do always those things that please him.''2
We're all a long way from reaching the Master's full understanding of man's unity with the Father. We'll come closer to it, however, as we admit our conscious worth. As we do, we'll feel a depth of approval unmatched by human praise. We'll feel God's own love for us, and our ``hungry heart'' will be satisfied!
1Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17. 2John 8:29.