Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
This is a powerful and very important statement. Many if not most people spend much of their lives trying to please other people, instead of trying to please God. It’s not that we are to deliberately try to upset or irritate people (though some do try to do that) but that our focus should be on God and not man. The biggest problem comes when people who claim to be servants of God focus on people instead, trying to please them and/or manipulate them in various ways. The devil tries to deceive us into thinking that’s necessary for evangelism, and indeed, Paul himself famously said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) However, that’s very different from being a “people pleaser.” We aren’t to offend needlessly, but if fear of offending people keeps us from obeying God, we’ve got our priorities reversed. We are to focus first on God, and then as His agents, express His love and grace to the people around us. Sometimes that can mean strong warning or correction, and it has nothing to do with political correctness, but it is the only way to be a true servant of Christ.
I have certainly had my struggles with people-pleasing. Like everyone else, I have a hunger to be accepted, to be loved, even though I’m naturally rather introverted. I have had many experiences of failing to be true to myself out of a desire to be approved by others. I’m not to use that as an excuse not to change and grow, because continual growth is certainly necessary, but I must first ask what it is that God wants me to say and do in every situation. My ultimate goal in life is to hear Him say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21) As Paul says here, I will not achieve that by placing the opinions of people ahead of God and His approval. I am at times painfully aware of my need for further growth, spiritually and emotionally. (At this point, physical growth would likely be limited to my waistline, and I can do without that!) I am to strive to keep my focus on my Lord and allow Him to do in and through me anything and everything that He desires, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Today has a packed schedule, with the service, making the service CDs, decorating the building for Christmas, and then the Thanksgiving dinner tonight. Help me be so focused on You that I am indeed able to rest, relax, and rejoice in all of it, blessing those around me and not lashing out at them for any reason, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!