Who Do You Aim to Please?
Read Galatians 1:10 (ESV)
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
How much of a “people-pleaser” would you say that you are? Has this ever led you to compromise obedience to God?
In our culture right now, it seems that there is no greater “sin” than offending someone. Of course, we shouldn’t go around offending people for the sake of being offensive. But we shouldn’t go around pleasing people for the sake of pleasing them either, especially when pleasing other people requires us to compromise the truth and disobey God.
In today’s verses, the apostle Paul asked a rhetorical question: am I trying to please God or man? It is a question that we would do well to ask ourselves. Maybe it would be helpful to think about it this way: do I fear retribution from other people more than I fear the Lord? Do I crave the approval of men more than I want to please God? Have I made the approval of others an idol in my heart?
In Paul’s day, He ruffled a lot of feathers. But he didn’t do that for the sake of ruffling feathers. He did it to unapologetically teach and defend the truth of the Gospel. But it did cost him. Dearly. He went from being the persecutor to the persecuted when he became a servant of Christ.
He wrote: “Five times I received at the hands of Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25). He was also imprisoned for preaching the truth of the Gospel multiple times.
Paul could have laid low and stopped preaching so he didn’t make people mad and try to kill him. He could have made concessions when the Judaizers were distorting the truth of the Gospel in order to avoid arguments and discord. He could have kept his mouth shut for the sake of unity and to keep the peace. That is what a people-pleaser would do.
But the Lord did not call Paul to please people. He called Paul to serve Him and that is what Paul intended to do whether other people liked it or not. In 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, Paul said that his aim is always to please Christ because someday we are all going to stand before His judgment seat and answer to Him and Him alone for the things that we have done. Ultimately, we don’t answer to other people for our actions, good or evil. What humans think of us and what other people do to us has no eternal significance.
This is the truth—following Christ is not necessarily going to make you popular. It isn’t going to win you brownie points with the world. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-20).
There is a cost to following Christ. Paul understood this. But he wasn’t about to stand by and let the truth of the Gospel be maligned. He had counted the cost and determined it worth it. What about you? Are you more concerned with gaining the approval of others or with faithfully serving Christ? When the world says one thing and God’s Word says another, what do you do? Who do you aim to please?
Lord, I confess that I often crave the approval of men and fear their reactions more than I crave Your approval and fear You. Forgive me, Lord. Please “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11, NIV). I want to serve and please You above all others. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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