"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."
- Galatians 1:10 NLT
The above verse, written by the apostle Paul, warns us that if we are to be true servants of God, we must seek the Lord's approval, rather than man's. Very often, God's will and man's are opposed to each other, and here's where the tension arises. Jesus said, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.” (Luke 16:15 NIV) God and man have very different value systems, and we are expected to make right choices, even in tough situations. In Luke 12:48 (NIV), Jesus tells us: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” As followers of Christ, we are equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit to live by God's standards, not the world's. The Bible assures us that our God is a just God, and He will never give us unattainable goals to strive for. When we supply the will, He supplies the power.
Exodus 23:2 (NIV) says, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” What happens when your friends want you to watch movies or listen to music that you know in your heart are not God's will for you? Jesus said, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones.” (Luke 16:10 NLT) Don't be deceived into thinking that God doesn't care about the little details of our daily lives. He cares very much, and He expects us to be faithful. Proverbs 25:26 (NLT) says, “If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.” Not only can our compromise harm our fellowship with God, but it can damage our witness and cost us an opportunity to lead others to the Lord. It's been said that, “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.” Instead of just telling them about Jesus, we need to show them Jesus!
We're always appalled when we hear the biblical account of Peter denying Jesus. But look what the apostle Paul says in Titus 1:16 (NIV): “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” We're no better than Peter when we choose to live our own way, rather than God's. The Bible says that “friendship with the world is hatred toward God.” (James 4:4 NIV) God's not going to settle for a superficial commitment from us. We have a higher calling on our lives, and it's the Lord's desire to use us for His glory. But He can't use us if we won't submit to His ways and plans for us.
In 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV), Paul says: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service.” God has promised to reward our faithfulness by giving us opportunities to serve Him. But there are other rewards for choosing to please God rather than people. When we make it our life's goal to please the Lord, the result is joy, peace, and fulfillment. On the other hand, whenever we try to please people, we experience frustration, disappointment, and emptiness. The truth is that living to please God is the only decent way to live. My prayer for you today is that you will have the same spirit that Peter and the other disciples had when they declared, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I chose to please people instead of You. Give me the strength and courage I need to resist the temptation to win the approval of others. Help me to be faithful in little things so that You can trust me to be faithful in bigger ones. Thank You for rewarding my faithfulness with awesome opportunities to serve You!
- J. M. Farro