Every one of us is born with an addiction to human praise. We want people to like us, but we also want people to praise us. If we’re not careful, we can feed on human praise. We get addicted to likes on Facebook and Instagram and retweets, and our day is only going well if people favorite us and heart us and share us. We want personal praise gone viral. So what does our addiction to human praise do to us? And how can we sever the source of this addiction? To help, here’s a clip from John Piper’s sermon “The Love of Human Praise as the Root of Unbelief”:
Faith is drinking living water for the satisfaction of our souls. This is John 4, this is John 6:35: “Come to me! I’m water! I’m living water. You drink from me” — that’s what faith is. Faith is a coming to Jesus to drink living water into our desperately thirsty souls so that our souls are rested, satisfied, comforted, and deeply happy in all that God is for us in Jesus.
Well of Living Water
Now when that happens, it drives out the enslaving craving for the praise of man. You don’t need it! Once you have tasted this water, the well of Jesus — the well of all that God is in his approval in Christ — who needs the approval of man anymore? This is a barometer of your faith: How desperately do you crave people liking you? It’s okay to want to be liked. No one likes to be disliked. I’m talking about a craving, a needing, a control on your life: “I’ve got to be liked, I’ve got to be approved, I’ve got be praised. I need, I need, I need.”
And it’s an addiction, it’s a controlling bondage on our lives to need more praise, more statistics in our favor, more kind words, less criticism, more, more, more, more, and it never satisfies. It’s got a buzz to it like drugs. It’s got a buzz to it, and then it’s got a hangover to it. That’s the way it works.
Sweeter Than Honey
When you have tasted the beauty of God and the approval of God in Christ, the addiction of human approval is broken, and you are free. So God, come and grant right now that our eyes would be opened to see your glory, and that taste buds on the tongue of our soul would be wakened so that we can taste how sweet the living water is — sweeter than honey, sweeter than human praise — and grant us, therefore, faith, and set us free. May God do that for you.
Father, we’re all in this together. There’s no finger pointing here. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for putting up this word in front of us, for showing us some of the reasons why we have a hard time believing you, trusting you, resting in you. We invite you collectively — at least I do, I don’t know if I can speak for everybody, but all of us who are thus minded, we invite you — do a crucifying work afresh in our lives. Take the axe of grace and the Spirit and sever the root of our love affair with the praise of man that we may believe and glorify you. I ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.