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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Renée Miller

Friday, July 16

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and God will lift you up.
—James 4:10

Approval and affirmation—these are the twins who lead us to an abdication of our own self-understanding. In our endless need for approval and affirmation, we squander our soul and the enjoyment of God's gifts seeps slowly away. We no longer delight in our capabilities simply because they come to us as gifts from God.

Approval and affirmation are not, in themselves, bad for us, but they have an underbelly. The need for approval grows exponentially with every affirmation we receive. Our soul becomes greedy and wants more and more. Without even knowing it, all of life becomes an exercise to feed that greed until the self and/or soul is left in danger. But help stands shyly close.

Humility is the antidote. Humility is the gift that can free our soul from its own self-absorption. Humility is what we need to seek, run after, and claim. Avoiding any opportunities for self-aggrandizement, avoiding opportunities where one can be lauded and praised is the medicine our soul needs until it is healed of its sickness. 

Once it is healed and we have espoused humility, we can be in situations where people will critique us. We may receive approval or affirmation but it does not define us. The greed is no longer triggered every time we receive a positive remark, nor are we thrown into questioning and justifying despair when we receive negative feedback. 

Humility has allowed us to give ourselves over to God. Humility has allowed us to recognize that it is God's grace and power that has been working in us. When affirmation or negativity is received, we no longer personally absorb it, because we have thrown off the hungry appetite that keeps our soul from freedom. 

When we have finally stared the twins in the eye and have experienced the effects of their seduction, we will find ourselves drawn with delight into the humble place—the place of God.

Oh God, bring new health to my soul. Cure it of its greed for approval. Help me see my life as a gift and my life's offerings as gifts to myself and others. Help me let go of the results.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2003.