It is selfish to seek divine approval

“The art of pleasing is the art of deceiving.” A French Proverb
To be seen!
It is a fact that if you feel somebody sees you doing good that you will feel that that is a reward in itself. Being seen may be a reward for you think you have got approval. Or should have it.  You may be fulfilling your expectation of approval. You are getting something out of the good you have done.  Being seen can be the only reward you want.  In any case, there is no chance of approval unless you are seen first so it's worth a try!


To be seen doing good is motive enough.  Being seen and wanting to be seen is enough for many. Jesus hinted that is the case for he mentioned how the Pharisees feel rewarded just by being seen though everybody knew they were hypocrites.


The universal quest for approval


The drive for approval is in everybody unless they suffer depression or something. Many pretend they don't want approval but in saying that they show themselves to be lying.
The drive for approval is behind vanity and greed. This drive is why power matters to so many. The drive is so powerful that you see people who are not ill campaigning for a right to assisted suicide because rather than just kill themselves they want enough people to approve of their date with death in a clinic or at the hands of a medical professional.
People embrace great suffering in order to feel approved. Though they would be better off just doing what they want without approval they don't want to know. The huge sacrifices most people make for approval make it reasonable to suppose that all healthy people have the drive and that those who don't show much of a sign have it subconsciously.
Psychologists state that many people who give their lives for strangers are mainly motivated by the thought that people will approve of them to extent that they become magnified and remembered as heroes. Nobody seriously considers such people to be true altruists.
People like it when others see their good deeds. They feel rewarded by the fact that the goodness is merely seen. They may not care about money or getting the others to praise them. Being seen is reward enough. Christ said that the Pharisees did good merely to be seen.
People who are dying and who give their money away there and then still want the memorial plaque for what they did put up. Believers in God want God to remember their goodness. They feel that is better than any plaque for God remembers for all eternity. 
Disapproval - the dark side

You cannot disapprove of what someone has done without wanting to hurt them.

People fear being disapproved for they want to be liked and they want the benefits of being approved of. For example, if nobody approves of you you will be ostracised and will never get a good job.

Even if you think you feel nothing, when you chose to hurt someone for the sake of it, there is hate there. Hate means wanting to hurt somebody.

To look for approval, you imply that disapproval should be an option too but you don't want it. Approval means you must sanction the possibility of disapproval as well.

The recipient's approval
Jesus said that you must not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing when you help another person.
When you help therefore you are supposed to do it because God says so or because it is right and not because you want approval.
The atheist will say, "When you help you are supposed to do it because it is good and not because you want approval or because anybody commands it".
Is doing something because it is right just another way of saying you are doing it for the approval?
If you can hide your good work from the person you help and don't then you are looking for approval from the person. In fact if you like approval, it will be easy to do secret good works but not hide them from the recipient. After all the recipient's approval matters most anyway.
Do believers do good for God's approval?
God supposedly sees and hears all.
Could it be that believers in God like doing good works because God sees them? You can do good works that no person knows about and not care because God sees it. That does not make you a better person than the person who good better when there is an audience.
It makes you worse.
There is more humility in feeling approved by fallible silly humanity than in feeling approved by God. God sees all and has tough standards and who are you to think and feel you know God thinks you are great?
And at least you know other people exist but what if there is no God? It is arrogant to seek the approval of a being who might only be in your head. It is like you are creating a God to approve of you. You can do this even if there is a God for as far as you are concerned there might be no God.
The person then who does good for God's approval is in fact worse than the person who merely seeks man's. That person is far more selfish or self-centred, despite her or his sentiments and sweetness.
Those who say that you cannot be good or take good seriously or believe in good properly unless you believe in God, clearly wish to believe because they want to feel approved. And not only that, they feel they are approved. Their humility is false because they are humble to be approved and that is not real humility but pride disguised as humility.
Should we judge that believers are looking for approval from God? What about innocent until proven guilty? The proof of possible innocence would be if they are making huge sacrifices of love for God. It is safe, knowing what we know about human nature and how it professes love for God that fails to be supported well by their lives, to assume that believers only want God for the sense of divine approval they get from belief in him. It is a placebo because they do not really deserve that approval. Their faith is a placebo for sins against God.
Christianity's argument
Christianity advocates altruism towards God. You are to serve God not because you want his approval, not because you want a reward, not because you want to feel good about being good but merely because it benefits him. Wanting God's approval or anything else would be selfish. It would be loving something God can give instead of God or more than God. It would be about what you expect of God. Thus it would not be about God.
Rewards have no meaning except as an expression of approval for us.
For most people who believe, wanting the approval or not wanting it is the fundamental choice in terms of a relationship with God. This choice is what it is all about as far as they are concerned. That explains why they take it so personally if you critique faith in God. And faith in their version of God. By attacking the illusion they have a relationship with and an illusion that approves of them or their attempting to be good they feel you are attacking them!
So we can safely say we know they are not really altruistic.
A religion preaching altruism towards God and saying it does not seek God's approval as a reward in itself does not mean the religion can or does live up to it.


Religion makes your crave for approval worse

Religion increases your desire for and your need for approval. It conditions you so that you cannot help but need it.  Thus what a religious person does for you is always selfish.

Religion makes you feel like you cannot be independent of God.  If he is creator then you cannot be free.  Even when you sin you only sin because of him not against him for he creates your free will.  So he feels so big to you that you have to keep wanting his approval.  You will naturally need the approval of the person you are so intimately stuck with.

Religion threatens you by saying sin can lead you to sin that forces you into Hell as punishment.  This makes you crave approval from God as it keeps you from suffering forever.

Religion exaggerates how bad some "sins" are and invents sins.  This guilt needs to be relieved by getting approval.

Forgiveness is about God starting to approve of you now so that you have a fresh start.

Religions that teach these things are after a reward and that reward is approval.

Sometimes a person can do something that looks unselfish and looks as if they do not care about approval. But in fact, like everybody else they are actually trying to approve of THEMSELVES! Their altruism still redounds to their status in their own sight. Praise from others means nothing unless you see it as a reflection of the praise you have for yourself. All the approval you want from others is about you approving of yourself.
What about giving yourself approval? It is essential. You can't ask people to resist approving of themselves when they do something well. Soon nobody will be motivated to do anything and everybody will be depressed and resentful. It is hypocritical to think you must approve of other's actions and not your own. That is saying good does not matter when you do it but only matters when another does it. It is not respectful to good. Clearly to be a good person, God and any approval he offers is irrelevant.
You have your worth. You are not valuable just because God or other people think you are. It has nothing to do with what they think. To look for their approval means you think that their feelings and thoughts are your responsibility. They are not. Indeed you must be wiser and better than God if you know how to make him happy! Can't he do it himself? To act for the sake of being approved by others is trying to make them responsible for making you happy and feeling approved. It is not fair on them for it is up to you not them to help you be happy. It is up to you for even they cannot make you happy unless you let them so in reality only you make you happy.
You need to love yourself as in feeling enough love to look after yourself. If you don't have enough feelings of love for yourself, you will never be able to appreciate or recognise the love others have for you. You will not love them. Some religionists condemn self-love. What are the alternatives? Self-hate? Self-indifference? One form of self-indifference is when you look after yourself not for yourself but for others. If you don't matter and shouldn't matter, how can anybody else matter? This kind of self-indifference is really a form of self-hate.
We see then that you must learn to approve of the good you do and learn it make it motivate you to do even more. This is self-centred in the best way. Altruism is degrading and belief in God plays no role in being good.
When you lie about your love of divine approval
The ego likes to be told it is good and likes to feel approved of. It is about feeling safe. Looking for approval means you want to be seen as good. That is what matters - not being good. Being attached to pleasing God or others is really about you.
To disguise your self-centred quest for approval as goodness means that the deception will get worse over time. It will lead to anger and arrogance and maybe addiction to the quest for approval. You will be pompous and smug even as you act the part of the humble. You will fear that people will see through you. You will turn nasty and defensive.
Is the love of divine approval the reason godly people do good?
Belief in God is said to motivate people to do good works. Saying that is unacceptable for if you want to do good you will do it whether you believe or not. You cannot extract belief in God from people and send them back in a time machine to see what they will do. So it is judgemental for it is best to assume that with the removal of faith they will not do or even might not do it. If people seem to like this kind of judgment that shows how toxic belief in God can be.
There is another problem with saying it too. Given what we have learned about human nature and its desire for approval, it is safe to say that if religious people really do good works better, they do them better because they want God's approval. Thus they are best described as helpful works but the people are not really that good inside. If you save a baby's life and you let any part of your action be about winning anybody's approval, or God's approval, then that is an insult to the baby for you could make it more or all about the baby.
When you look for God's approval, you mean you approve of you and want God to agree with you. You expect him to. It is really about you. You only want faith in God because you want approval. You are as wise as God and think you know he should approve. In reality, you think you are better than God! So your prayers and "sacrifices" are patronising God!
Looking for God's approval and thinking you may have got it is bad for the following reasons:
-The good person does good for its own sake and does not care who approves.
-Looking for approval gives in to your natural desire for approval.
-It feeds it.
-Seeking approval from others helps you blend in but if you care more about the approval of some being such as God that defeats the purpose.
- Because people act as if they know what is in the mind of God, their feeling approved by God is arrogance. It is arrogant to imagine that a perfectly good and infinite God approves of you. Arrogance is always about trying to use your pride to stop something perceived as harmful happening to you. It makes you feel better to imagine that you know what in fact you do not know. It is not up to you to decide what is in anybody's else's mind.
-It seems humble if you think you do good and it is really God who is doing it not you. That could indicate a desire to degrade the good done by others. Even if God is doing the good through you, you are doing good others are not doing. You have a role. You know that. You are in fact trying to glorify your own goodness as being entirely that of God. It is not hard to be humble if that is humility!
-Arrogance avoids taking responsibility. The believer is happy to say that God lets evil happen but refuses to admit responsibility for condoning what cannot be condoned - which would be the case if there is no God.
-Christians say that all we do is tainted at least a little by sin and sin is an offence against God. There is at least a little bit of sin in everything we do. If that is true then even if our goodness is good on the human level, it is not as good as far as God is concerned. Your attitude is, "I do this good because it suits me for I sin even as I do it." Looking for God's approval is delusional even if there is a God. It is arrogant and calling on God to glorify your sin.
Inventing an approving God
Man prefers man's word to God's and likes his word to be taken for God's. Even if a person seems to be totally God-centred they might not be. Many pagan idolaters could have been champions where devotion was concerned.
The truth can coincide with what you want to believe. It is possible to serve the truth not because it is the truth but because it is what you want to hear. That is not real service of the truth.
It is safe to assume that people approve of themselves so much that they have to invent a God to reinforce and represent how great they are.


Here is how the Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder.  It is  “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”


Faith in a God who approves of you and admires you is a form of this disorder.


Because this is about God and you the people around you may not notice that there is anything wrong.


If you admit you love God and only worry about people for his sake then that is a way of not caring about others feelings though it may not lead you to harm  them.  The person who benefits from your "love" will sense that they are being used to please a God.  That is quite cruel especially if it is a vulnerable person who just needs to be just loved.


The give away will be the hatred you feel for anybody who seems to challenge or not share your faith.


Self-esteem when it is about what other people think can be fragile and always in danger.  There is no reason why the same thing cannot happen if you base it on God.  It will often be worse for you will have more to fear from a God who you think exists than people for he is all-powerful.  Hating what you think God thinks of you will lead to you taking it out on people especially the easy targets.
God-pleasing is manipulative and selfish for you are only doing your good deeds for you are attached to avoiding him being negative towards you or to get him to like you and look good or great in his eyes  It is about you and not the good or him.  You are hiding your true self and thus averting the goodness that comes from helping another with no hidden feel-good agenda.  If you think it is a bad thing to do good only for approval or chiefly for approval then abandon belief in God. The belief makes our love for approval far worse. It makes your secret good works suspect. You don't want to encourage any belief that makes the tendency to make doing good to be about approval any worse.

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