It was the moment this young man had waited for and had prepared for over many months. It was his premiere appearance as a concert pianist. The audience had heard a lot about his amazing talent, so they packed out this prestigious concert hall to hear him. They weren’t disappointed. In fact, his masterful playing brought them to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation at the end of the concert. Backstage, the young man’s manager said, “They want an encore, man! Get out there!” The pianist looked strangely dejected, and he said, “No, I’m not going to go back out there.” And the manager said, “But they love you, man! Look at them! They’re all on their feet!” “Not all. Look in the balcony.” The manager peeked around the curtain and he saw one white-haired old man in the balcony who wasn’t standing or applauding. “Hey, come on! One old guy? So what?” The pianist looked down at the floor and he said, “That’s not one old man. That’s my teacher.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Only Applause That Matters.”
It didn’t matter to that concert pianist what that crowd thought. Only one opinion mattered. Only one man in that multitude was the one he wanted to please – his teacher. You know, that’s how God has wired you and me to live. To please your teacher – your Creator. Sadly, we tend to lose sight of Him in our desire to get the applause of the crowd around us.
Jesus has given us six powerful words to live by in our word for today from the Word of God. They’re in John 8:29. They’re simple, but they’ll change your life if you’ll make them the core value of your life. It says this, “I always do what pleases Him.” Jesus lived only for His Father’s approval. That’s why the greatest moment of His life was at His baptism when the heavens opened and He heard His Father say, “You are My Son … with You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). It didn’t matter whether the crowd was cheering or jeering. Jesus knew He was OK if His Father thought He was OK.
That’s an important reminder for us approval junkies, who tend to mold ourselves to please other people. It’s like we have this ticket we keep trying to get people to validate for us. “Hey, do you like me? Do you like what I’m doing? Do I look OK? What do I have to do to get you to stamp my ticket?” It’s called “Please Disease” spending so much of your life trying to please other people. But there’s never enough applause is there? There’s never enough approval. And somewhere in all the pleasing, you lose yourself and you lose the pleasure of the only One who can satisfy your heart – your Lord Jesus who died so you could live for Him! 1 Corinthians 7:23 – “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” Paul knew he had to choose once and for all who he was going to live for and who he was going to live to please. He said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Wow!
So who are you living to please: the boss, the pastor, your family, your friends, the church, some guy, some girl, your community? They didn’t die for you. Their rewards don’t hold a candle to His. The early church leader, Stephen, knew that. He had stood up for the truth on the streets of Jerusalem. The crowd was not applauding. They were screaming at him, throwing rocks at him to shut him up once and for all. “But,” the Bible says, “Stephen … looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
The Bible tells us Jesus is usually sitting at His Father’s right hand, but not this day. He’s standing. He’s honoring his faithful servant Stephen. And Stephen has the courage to keep doing the right thing, even at the cost of his life, because his teacher is standing. His teacher is saying, “Well done.”
I hope that’s where you’re looking for your approval, where I’m looking for mine. The only applause that matters is the applause of heaven. Anything is worth doing to get that, and nothing is worth losing it for.