Scripture: Deuteronomy 13-15, Galatians 1
Galatians 1:4 In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father
Galatians 1:10 Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Earlier this week, I read in Mark 15:15 that Pilate, knowing Jesus was innocent, condemned him to be crucified because he “wanted to please the crowd.” It was a terrible decision motivated by a desire to please others.
That idea—being a crowd pleaser—has been rumbling around in my head this week. This desire to please others is not entirely wrong (see Romans 15:1-3); it can be motivated by love. However, it can also be motivated by selfishness: I want others to approve of me for my own gain, to make me feel better about myself, to advance my career, or to make a name for myself.
This can be expressed in cultural accommodation. In order to fit in and be accepted, we abandon Biblical values and accept the prevailing cultural norms. Jesus died to “set us free from this present evil age,” not to make us fit in better!
This can be expressed in bad decisions, like the one Pilate made, or in Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira lied to make themselves look better than they were.
This can be expressed in subverting the gospel, like the Galatians were doing, to avoid conflict. Paul boldly called them out, realizing that he would alienate some people. Paul was willing to risk censure or rejection to do what was right, to say what was true, because he wasn’t seeking human approval, but God’s!
I love to please people. That’s ok if it is motivated by love for them, seeking their best. It’s not so good if it’s motivated by selfishness, by seeking to meet my needs for approval or desire for advancement.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live for the Audience of One! I want to please You first. Then I want to please others for the right reasons—out of genuine love. Please keep me from compromise or bad decisions to gain other’s approval.