This is adapted from my morning devotional reading and writing.
“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. ” (Galatians 1:10, ESV)
Approval and pleasure are not things that can be safely entrusted to man. If Paul wanted to seek approval from men, then he has gone about it a funny way! His former cohorts surely despise him for his conversion, and the Gentiles think the gospel is foolishness. Paul moved from prestige to ridicule and he did it joyfully, contending for the sufficiency of Christ. We must seek firstly God’s approval and having secured that, seek to persuade others likewise.
What about the danger of trying to please man? Man wants to have his cake, eat it and then eat everyone else’s. Trying to please man is like trying to eat jello with chopsticks – the more you chase after it, the more fractured and messy everything becomes until you end up with an undefined soup that nobody finds pleasure in anymore. I see this attitude in the contemporary theological controversies – people have tried to reconcile the difficult doctrines of God but have started with a man-centric view of goodness, justice, grace and so forth. What is left is no gospel at all.
Jesus will not accept this divided loyalty. Paul knows that if he sets his heart on pleasing man, then he will not be serving Christ, and in reality will be doing a disservice to man. But if he, and we also, keep putting Christ first and pursuing pleasing God, then we will bring him glory and honor, and some men will indeed find their true satisfaction as they bow their knees to the King of Kings.
Lord, I know that I do not always succeed in this but my heart is to do so! I put you first, over all people, status and worldly prestige. You are the one I find my own pleasure and approval in, not man. I am approved because of Jesus. I am happy because I am reconciled to You. When the temptation comes to cave in to the fear of man, would you please help me by Your Spirit, to be strong and courageous, and that this would be to your glory, my joy and others good. In Jesus’ name, amen.