As human beings, we’re born with a hunger for significance. We long for approval, whether from those closest to us or in the eyes of the world. It’s evident in us at an early age. Little girls ask, “Daddy, do I look pretty?” Breathless boys pant, “Daddy, did you see how fast I ran?” We never really grow out of it, desperate for someone’s “Yes!” to be spoken over our lives. The less bold and daring of humankind want this, not by securing public honor, but by avoiding public shame. They don’t care about standing in the winner’s circle; they just don’t want to come in last.
Yes, we are glory hungry. And here is why: We were made for it.
When the first humans were created, God crowned them with glory and majesty (Ps. 8:5). They were made in God’s image—relating to Him in personal intimacy, reflecting His moral beauty and uncorrupted goodness, and representing Him as stewards by exercising dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-31). As such, they possessed an unparalleled dignity, significance, and purpose. They were naked and unashamed with nothing to prove and nothing to hide. As God looked at all He had made, they topped the charts, and the Father pronounced them both “very good.”
Imagine that! Think of the significant compliments you have received in your life. Maybe someone recognized you for an achievement, promoted you for your success, or complimented your appearance. These things fill us with a sense of worth. But Adam and Eve were given the greatest compliment by the Creator of the universe. God spoke a “very good” over the totality of their being, honoring them and swelling their hearts with unimaginable joy. That is the glory we seek; that is the glory we were made for. But Adam and Eve lost that when they sinned against God (Rom. 3:23). They once joyfully lived under glorious commendation but now were under His condemnation. They, for the first time, were filled with deep insecurity and sought to hide their nakedness and shame, sewing fig leaves for their covering.
We are their descendants. Our desire to have a positive verdict spoken over our lives is the residue of our original design. We were robbed of that at the fall and have been trying to reclaim it ever since in all the wrong places. We try to satiate these cravings and cover our shame not with fig leaves, but with the approval of man and personal exploits. So we obsess over our looks, our weight, our social status, our online profiles, our achievements, our resumes, our GPAs—all as withering attempts to prove that we are indeed “very good.” We look to others to gain the praise and recognition that will slay our insecurity and satiate our appetite for approval. But no court of human opinion is high enough to satisfy the ache. We were made for God’s resounding “Yes!” and none other will do.
We try to cover our shame not with fig leaves, but with the approval of man.
The gospel is our only hope for satiating this need. The glory that Adam lost, Jesus reclaimed at the cross. Jesus possessed glory, yet He laid it aside, taking our sin and shame upon Himself. Though sinless, He became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), bearing our condemnation to secure God’s commendation—and with it the hope of glory—for us. Through faith in Jesus, we can be justified before God (Rom. 3:23-24). We can be clothed in something greater than accomplishments and the withering praise of people. We can be clothed with the very righteousness of Christ, the One who declares His creation “very good.” The One who speaks those words over us in love and with delight. This is what we are made for, and nothing else will do.
The apostle John tells us about a shortsighted group of people who missed out on this glory: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42-43 ESV).
They could have had the approval that comes from the God of the heavens. But they settled for the passing admiration of fickle and fallen people. John wants us to feel the shock of this. Loving glory is not wrong; loving the wrong glory is wrong—and foolish. It robs us of the “very good” we were made for and enslaves us to a counterfeit that will never be enough. Until the opinion of God matters most to us, we will never be free.
Our insatiable desire for glory is a gift, not a burden. It leads us to the only Person who can provide for that need—Jesus—who has won for us an incomparable approval we could never earn or lose. So next time you find yourself seeking the attention or approval of others or fearing their rejection, remember that God Himself has already bestowed His love and praise upon you. And that’s all the glory you’ll ever need.
Illustration by Tomi Um