For do I now persuade men, or God? or do…
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
The churches in Galatia had been led astray from the true gospel by some people who, according to the Apostle Paul, “deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Galatians 1:7). They were preaching something that “. . . pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). Paul’s letter to them was an attempt to set them straight. He took a risk in writing the letter, because there was the chance that the churches would not take kindly to receiving his rebuke and correction.
It is in this context that Paul wrote our verse for today. He had a choice to make. He could write something that would please the churches and meet with their approval, or he could do the right thing and write a letter of rebuke and correction. He could seek the approval of people, or he could seek the approval of God. The choice he made, obviously, was to seek the approval of God and not the approval of people.
The choice Paul had to face is a choice all of us have to face at various points in our walk with God. Shall we live our lives seeking the approval of people, or the approval of God? Stated in this blunt way the right answer to the question seems obvious. However, putting the right answer into practice is not so easy. The temptation to please people is very great. Pleasing God rather than people can sometimes lead to friction and conflict with people. And who wants that?
If all we try to do in life, however, is please people and build up a good reputation with them, then we are not really following the example of Jesus Christ. In order to obey the will of God, Jesus “made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus was not concerned about His reputation with people. He was concerned about obeying God. That’s why, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
Placing priority on the approval of people is a sure-fire way to keep us out of the will of God. When the choice must be made, please God—and do the right thing.