“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)
The apostle Paul viewed life in very straightforward terms. We have a choice to make; we can please God or we can please men. To become a man-pleaser, Paul said, would keep him from becoming a servant of the Lord. He made the right choice
It is tempting to desire to “fit in,” to be part of the in crowd. But fitting in often comes at a high price—and with a lot of uncertainty. The in-crowd is fickle. Today you may be in, and tomorrow you may be out. For many years, I worked with various age levels in Sunday school. Regardless of age, it wasn’t difficult to observe who was “in” and who was “out.” That desire to be with the in crowd crosses all age lines and can cause us to become people pleasers.
Life is not a popularity contest. We do not need the approval of others to live a fulfilled and happy life. The only opinion that should really matter is God’s. He not only sees our actions but also knows the motives behind those actions. Paul, the God-pleaser, expressed this in I Thessalonians 2:4.
“For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (NLT).
Living our lives only to please others is a sad way to live. No matter how hard we try, we will never fully live up to the demands and expectations of others. Often, along the way we sacrifice our self-worth, our integrity, our peace of mind, and our purpose just to try to appease others. Consider the life of King Saul. Anointed by God to be the first king of Israel, he lived a tormented life and never reached his God-given potential. The reason? He sought the approval of men more than the approval of God. In I Samuel 15:24 he admitted, “I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”
A man who lived his life as a committed God-pleaser was Daniel. Over and over in his life, he faced difficult choices. He could have compromised, choosing the easier path, but he refused to sacrifice his integrity to appease others. Daniel never wavered, even when it became a life-or-death situation (Daniel 6). Daniel never sought personal glory, but God blessed him in ways he would never have achieved as a man-pleaser.
A time may come when you will face a decision—God’s way or man’s way. Choose carefully whom you will live to please. Like the apostles, be quick to respond, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Someone said it well when they remarked, “If God is pleased then stop worrying about who isn’t.”
(Other scriptures for study: Jeremiah 17:5; John 12:42-43; Acts 4:19-20; Ephesians 6:6.)