I’ve been the one surrounded by encouraging people after preaching a sermon. But I’ve also been the one ignored and seemingly rejected. And I’m learning to be okay with both.
I often find myself deceived by the applause of man. Every time I publish a message, I find myself discouraged. I hardly ever get the response that I expect. Each week, I pour my heart into the Bible. Sometimes, to the point of mental exhaustion. Only to receive a handful of likes on Facebook. And it’s quite discouraging.
But I shouldn’t even think those thoughts. Let alone write them. But I doubt I’m the only one who tries to please people over God. And so, here’s a message to people pleasers like me.
Let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Galatians, he warns against a false gospel. Some are attempting to lead the churches of Galatia away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In response to this situation, he writes, “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. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Gal. 1:10-13 ESV).
Paul’s people pleasing days are over. No longer does he hold so tightly to his Jewish roots that he seeks to kill those serving Christ. No longer does he try to please the Pharisees. No longer does he seek the applause of man. Now, he seeks the applause of God. Therefore, he preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not a gospel that pleases people. And not a gospel that includes desired details.
In Paul’s day, a great deal of preachers placed unnecessary burdens on Christians. They would try to please the Jewish system by making Christians follow old laws. A big issue in that day was circumcision. False teachers told Christians that circumcision was an obligation. Unless Christians were circumcised, they couldn’t be saved. In other words, according to the false gospel of the day, Jesus Christ was not enough. And that’s why Paul wrote a letter to the Galatians.
“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law” (Gal. 5:2-3 ESV).
And keeping the whole law would’ve been impossible. After all, over 600 laws existed in the Old Testament.
That’s why I’m convinced that any gospel besides the true gospel is more burdensome. Even if a false gospel appears to bring more freedom, it won’t stand the test of time.
But I’m not writing about false gospels, I’m writing about pleasing people. Although, it’s true that people who preach false gospels likely do so in an effort to please people over God. And trust me, that’s terribly dangerous to the Church.
As Christians, we must guard against pleasing people. Before too long, people pleasers become so concerned with offending people that they neglect to teach God’s Word.
Therefore, in the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul is defending the true gospel by neglecting to please people over God. And we must do the same.
As Ephesians 4:15 says, we’re to speak the truth in love. In other words, Christians should never use hatred to reach lost people. But it’s possible to love people and offend them at the same time. Our biggest fear is offending another person when it should be living a life contrary to God’s Word.
If an unbeliever hears the true gospel, they’re likely going to be offended. Even when the gospel is presented in a loving manner (as it should be), it’s an offensive message.
Jesus says, “‘And blessed is the one who is not offended by me’” (Luke 7:23 ESV). Jesus offended people left and right. But He loved every single person He met. Offense and hatred are not synonymous terms.
In a world full of offended people, it’s easy to find ourselves living for approval. In a world full of social media, it’s easy to find ourselves living for the applause of people. But we’re not called to please people. We’re called to please God. And that’s a reason to keep sharing the true gospel. After all, pleasing God is the best for people.