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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 slave of the Messiah. [1]

Galatians 1:10

Is my goal popularity? The Apostle Paul was clear that wasn’t his goal. He knew what his goal was. His focus would lead him to do many unpopular things. There is a danger in caring what others think of us. Much of our culture seems to focus on measuring popularity.

  • How many friends do I have on Facebook or Twitter?
  • Do friends “like” what I post?
  • How many clicks did I get on that post?

Paul knows we should be focused. He knows we should be totally devoted to following Jesus, no matter what. That won’t make us popular. We need to know that and be prepared for it. We should anticipate it with joy. There is nothing to compare with being in love with Jesus. This has nothing to do with human optimism.

There is a characteristic of Paul’s adversaries: the false motives that they practiced. His enemies accused Paul of being a compromiser and “adjusting” the Gospel to fit the Gentiles. Perhaps they twisted the meaning of Paul’s statement, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). They said, “When Paul is with the Jews, he lives like a Jew; but when he is with the Gentiles, he lives like the Gentiles. He is a man-pleaser, and therefore you cannot trust him!”

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But it was the false teacher who was the man-pleaser. “These men are paying you special attention, but not sincerely,” Paul wrote (Gal. 4:17). “They want to shut you off from me, so that you may keep on paying them special attention” (wms). Later, Paul also exposes the false teachers as the compromisers, going back to Old Testament practices so that they would not be persecuted by the Jewish people. Paul was not a man-pleaser. His ministry did not come from man (Gal. 1:1), nor did his message come from man (Gal. 1:12). Why, then, should he be afraid of men? Why should he seek to please men? His heart’s desire was to please Jesus. [2]

God’s goal: God wants us to focus on pleasing him and not ourselves or others. That is clear. The main thing is the will of God. What does God want?

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 1:10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 685). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.