Whose approval do we seek? Are we trying to please God or please man?
When the apostle Paul preached Christ and him crucified, Paul didn’t try to flatter or sweet talk his listeners. He didn’t try to say things he thought would keep the status quo or not ruffle feathers.
Quite the opposite. More times than not, the truth Paul spoke to reach a world desperately in need of a Savior ended up enraging the mobs determined to kill, flog, or imprison him.
But Paul never changed his message to please man, protect himself, or avoid hardship. He was steadfast and resolute in proclaiming God’s truth, no matter what it cost him. Paul knew being a servant of God meant he was to please God not please man.
Paul did not try to make friends with influential people in order to advance his prestige or career. Sure. He wanted an audience with the Roman empire’s highest leaders. Not to see what he could gain from those meetings, but to share the gospel of salvation.
When Paul wrote his letters to the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome, those letters weren’t written to highlight his mastery of the written word or brilliant debate skills. He didn’t write to win acclaim. He wrote to preach about a resurrected Savior, grace, and salvation.
Paul was not afraid to call out false teachers. He warned of the dangers of placing anything or anyone above our devotion to the One True God. He instructed the churches in how they were to live as followers of Christ.
I doubt Paul set out to intentionally irritate people, but that was often the result. Even so, he refused to compromise the message he’d been given in order to save himself from man’s wrath or disfavor. His goal was not to be a charismatic people pleasing preacher. Paul’s goal was to be a faithful servant who pleased God.
As Christ-followers we are called to imitate Christ. We are called to serve others in the name of Christ. We are called to live in such a way others will see Christ living in us and be drawn closer to God.
Nowhere in our job description as disciples of Jesus does it say our focus should shift from pleasing God to pleasing man. Paul never compromised the gospel message by seeking man’s approval over God’s approval.
What about each of us? Who do our actions show we are trying to please?
My prayer for each of us is we will be as convicted as Paul to please God rather than to please man.
How do you keep pleasing God your primary goal?
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You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 (TLB)
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