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The only applause that matters

A New Story


I happen to be the only member of our family who will eat mincemeat pie. That's fine with me. Don't feel bad for me. Certain holiday seasons of the year, someone in the family will indulge me with my very own mincemeat pie with all that diced fruit inside. And it is my very own! Sharing is really not an issue here. Since I don't get it very often, I try to make it last, and eat small slices over an extended period of time. Well, one problem: If I make it last too long, it starts to lose something. It's called freshness. A lot of times by the time I get to the end of that pie, I kind of wish I'd eaten it faster. See, that's the sad thing about a treat like that. It starts spoiling the minute it comes out of the oven really. Actually, a lot of life's rewards are like that.

John 6:15 is after Jesus feeds the 5,000, and it says, "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force ..." Wait a minute. You'd think it would say here, "He went to meet them." No, it says, "He withdrew again to a mountain by himself." Verse 26 says that when they chased Him across the lake of Galilee and catch up with Him, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, you look for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval."

You notice here Jesus talks about food that spoils. He just gave them a lot of food, and now He's talking about food that spoils. One of the issues He seems to be referring to here is human approval. When they wanted to make Him king, they didn't really want Him to rule their lives. He refused to compromise to get human approval. In fact, He withdrew from them. Then He announces here that He can satisfy their souls, not just their stomachs. And He declares what food He's after … food that doesn't spoil — God's personal seal of approval.

In fact, in John 4:34 Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Jesus knew what we all discover — that the approval of man is very short-lived. You can get a standing ovation one day, and you can be everybody's target the next. Like my mincemeat pie, people's applause starts to spoil from the moment it comes out of the oven.

The athlete who was cheered last game is jeered this game. Who cares about what you did last game? The newspaper that had your name in it yesterday, is wrapped around somebody's garbage today. The position you held for so long was quickly filled by someone else, and you're a memory in that place where you gave so much. It's food that spoils — human approval … human applause. We're approval junkies … addicted to approval. We make all kinds of sacrifices to get other people to like us, only to have them turn on us, forget us, or disappoint us.

Jesus said, "Don't work for it." Once you arrive at the point where only God's approval matters, you are wise; you are free at last. You're wise because you'll make decisions based on what's good for a long time, not what will get you liked today. You're free because you don't have to complicate your life with riding the public opinion roller coaster. It's so satisfying to live for what's right, rather than for what will just get you through.

The only vote that matters ultimately is your Heavenly Father's smile. His goodies last. Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life. At Your right hand, are pleasures forevermore." The rewards men give you are goodies that spoil. But in the words of 1 John 2:15, "He that does the will of God abides forever."

©Ronald P. Hutchcraft 2023



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