"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
Perhaps nothing threatens the focus of our Christian service and life like the applause or displeasure of the world. As believers, we understand that we have been saved by grace through faith and that we are to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. And we genuinely desire to do so...until...
Until the world attacks...
When we begin to receive criticism or pushback from the world, too many times Christians start to crater. The joy we find in living for the glory of Christ is threatened when the stern rebuke from the world begins. It is one thing to say that we do not live for the affirmation of the unbelieving world, but when the opposition mounts, it can be much more challenging to follow through.
Until the world applauds...
Sometimes the threat to our Christian living is not the attacks of the world; it may be its applause. When someone speaks well of you or regards you highly, it can become addictive. Before long, some find that the approval that people may give -- at any time and for any reason -- becomes a thrill they are not willing to relinquish. It is not that we set out to seek the applause of man, but if it comes, it can be hard to ignore.
Until our Christian service is not met with expected results...
When we set out to live for Christ and Christ alone, we typically have some expectation of how it will go. We understand there will be challenges and setbacks, but along the way, we also anticipate a certain level of success. When our expectations are not met, far too often, we begin to look elsewhere for direction.
When the Apostle Paul states "If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ" we best take heed. The warning is clear: seeking the pleasure of the world, for any reason, keeps us from living as a servant of Christ. We would do well to continually evaluate our heart and ensure our motives are Christ-honoring and our desires are worthy of Him.
Ask yourselves these questions:
- Is there any part of my Christian life where I am afraid of the threats of the world? Any part of my beliefs where I feel inclined to stay silent to fend off any potential detractors?
- Is there any part of my Christian life where I seek the applause of man?
Understand, it is possible to do the right things for the right reasons AND people affirm you. However, that can never be the motivating force behind how you live. Our lives are to be lived for the glory of Christ alone. Yes, we should live our lives in such a way that people see our good works, but our good works should be done in a way that the glory is given to our Father in heaven, and not ourselves.
- Is there any part of my Christian life where I am discouraged with the results?
Maybe you are sharing the gospel and seeing few people converted. Perhaps you are faithfully teaching and leading the class, but no one new is attending. It may be that the church is not responding to your preaching. Could it be that your efforts to serve others is met with more blah than blessing? Do not give up! If you seek to please man, mark it down, you will stop pleasing God.
The words of Galatians 1:10 serve to help us refocus, reprioritize, and recommit to living for the approval of God alone. As R.C. Sproul has said, "The idea is to live all of our lives in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and for the honor and glory of God." May we live this day and every day forth truly seeking the approval of only One.
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