Bible Truth Examiner


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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

Approbativeness may be defined as the desire for others’ approval, the love for others’ appreciation, the longing for others’ praise, the craving for others’ esteem, the wish for others’ good opinion, etc. Self-esteem and approbativeness have similar qualities. The difference is that self-esteem desires to think well of self, whereas approbativeness desires others to think well of one.

The Elements of Approbativeness

Approbativeness contains three elements, which are:

(1.) The desire for others’ confidence in us.

(2.) The desire for others’ satisfaction with us.

(3.) The desire for others’ respect for us.

Our subject will become clearer by considering its opposite, which is disapprobativeness – a dislike of others’ appreciation, approval, praise, good opinion, esteem, etc. Approbativeness rightly exercised is a part of the Divine image in man, so its opposite is an evil quality. The only exception is when people disapprove of us because of our loyalty to Truth, righteousness and holiness.

The Exaggeration and Abuse of Approbativeness

Exaggerated approbativeness leads to pomposity, to showing off, to the desire to shine, to occupy the center of the stage, to attract special attention to oneself and to be made the object of adulation, praise and popularity. Its abuse makes some resort to vulgar adornment of overdone cosmetics, jewels, garments and coiffure and to the ostentatious display of wealth, possessions, position, achievement, influence and rank. The other side of its exaggeration is that when it is denied the attention, praise, appreciation, esteem, confidence, satisfaction and respect that it craves from others, it often becomes extremely sensitive, which makes it often deeply resentful.

The Scriptures condemn its exaggeration and abuse. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus speaks of that abuse of approbativeness that does alms to show off: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6: 1, 2). Then He explains the way to overcome this form of showing off in verses 3, 4: “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

The Function of Approbativeness

Approbativeness does have a proper use. A Scriptural example is Romans 14: 18: “He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of [the] men.” Here approbativeness exercised toward the good, who are meant by the expression, the men, is commended.

Its proper use toward God is that we should earnestly long for His approval of us, His confidence in us, His delight in us, His satisfaction with us, His respect for us, and we should act so as to win these.

Similarly, we may use it toward our fellow man. Although we should never seek to exercise approbativeness as an end in itself, we should seek the approval of man whenever that will enable us better to influence him toward Truth, righteousness and holiness.

Approbativeness can also be either absent, or quite lacking, so that we do not desire God’s or man’s approval. If such be the case, let us recognize that we have a blemish in our disposition, and seek to put forth effort to cure the deficiency, by cultivating a proper approbativeness.

The Advantages of Approbativeness

(1.) It is advantageous toward God, for undoubtedly He is pleased when He sees that we desire his approval. His interests are also forwarded by our exercising a proper approbativeness. As a result, He is glorified and honored.

(2.) We as God’s children are benefited by a proper exercise of it in our own selves. It uplifts our own character and helps us discharge our duties, responsibilities and privileges toward others.

(3.) The proper use of it on our part blesses others. Our good influence will contribute to their growth in knowledge and character, if they are already the Lord’s people. If they are not such, it will influence them favorably toward the Lord; and if in this Age they do not come out wholeheartedly on the Lord’s side, the good impression made on them will produce fruits in the next Age.