Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who do we please?

What a mouthful Paul spoke when he asked the question "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?" How do we know if our motives are God-centered or man-centered? Knowing the difference can make a huge impact on our everyday life and the ultimate fulfillment of our purpose.

Version: NAS

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

One of the main concepts of this verse, other than who we are seeking approval from, is the idea of the term "bond-servant". This has more of the concept of a person who is "indebted" or "obliged" to someone else, and not so much as "ownership" by someone else. In Bible times people might have a debt of property that needed to be paid off and so they would contract themselves to another for a period of time to pay off that debt. In today's ideas many of us would be bond-servants of the mortgage company, Sears, and Macy's. (Just a little humor here!) But in those days, not only were you indebted, but it was a personal relationship and often one with gratitude and affinity attached.

So do we stop and examine our motive in situations and relationships?. Are we God-Pleasers or Man-Pleasers? How often do we take something on because we have a need for approval of other people? I know I've been guilty of this, as most of us have been at one time or another. I really care about other people's opinion of me, sometimes more than I should. As I've matured and gotten older I've learned the value of balancing this need. If we are always doing things for the approval of others we can soon find ourselves hurt and disappointed... and exhausted.

Taking things to God in prayer has really helped me sort out a lot of this. Knowing what God's will is and His plan can save us a lot of confusion. I've mentioned this before, but it's a key in my life. Don't do things on a whim; ask for God's approval and direction.

In Paul's case, before his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus to kill and imprison believers, he truly felt he was doing "God's will". Unfortunately he was wrong. What may appear as the right thing to do, our sincerity, and enthusiasm, aren't always good indicators of the will of God. Neither are they an indicator of God's approval. As a Jew, and a Pharisee, highly educated and wealthy, Paul was gung-ho on putting an end to all these traitors to the Jewish faith. It was his personal mission to get rid of and/or persecute as many of these "Christians" as he possibly could. Paul was gaining the approval of the Jewish councils and higher-ups. He was a young man on the rise and making a pretty big name for himself. You want to get rid of some pesky Christians? Who ya gonna call? Paul, known at that time, as Saul. He was at the stoning of Stephen and and in full approval of that dreadful decision. Acts 7:54-8:3

When God first called me, He had me "out-there" in the founding of a church start. It wasn't particularly easy being a woman in the landscape of ministry in the denomination I was in. Let's face it, it was like walking on eggshells of ego, the buddy system, and the "traditions of men". The dominant word here being "men". There was a phrase jokingly put, that coming to the alter to pray or confess, was the closest any woman would ever get to the pulpit. Sad but true.

They all liked what God was saying through me as long as it wasn't rocking their boat. I could keep my spot in the semi inner circle of this small church start, as long as I agreed with everything they said and did. In the natural I wanted to be accepted because I knew God was moving mightily in the midst of our congregation and He had some powerful things to do there. What initially had started out completely Spirit-led soon disintegrated into the man-made rule book way of doing things.

Well, I guess you can catch my drift. No matter how much I wanted to stay in good standing with the "group" there, God was asking me to stay true to Him; not any one person or denominational "handbook". I didn't last long there as I couldn't go along with it, so my husband and I excused ourselves.

Version: RSV

2 Corinthians 5:9-10
9. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.(God) 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

God has a way of asking us to do things at times that goes against the grain of "mainstream" religion. He's not particularly worried about what others might think of us. I'm not talking about rudeness, or craziness, or "show-offy-ness". (my own word here). I'm talking about following the Holy Spirit in our words and actions. Being true to what God is asking and saying, and not bowing down to pressure...not following the crowd to gain the approval of others. Ultimately, on Judgement Day, we will have to give an account of what we have done here on Earth; good or bad, lasting or inconsequential, God directed or man directed.
God once showed me a little mental picture (a small vision, if you will) of the "reserved seating" pews that we find in many church sanctuaries. It's usually up close to the front, to one side, for visiting speakers or clergy. He said to me, "This is where they want me to sit."  They didn't want Him to be front and center; in charge of the service, but just to take His place to sit and not say anything until called upon. Just visiting.

I don't know about you, but I don't want Jesus to be in the "just visiting section" in my life. I want Him fully in charge, directing my life, and in control. And to get that I need to be a bond-servant. Grateful and indebted to Jesus for my salvation AND my life.

Seeking God's approval over man's. You'll never be able to please everyone, so better to just try and please God. He'll let you know if you just ask.

love, in Jesus,


  1. Once again Debra, you and God are peeking into my heart and providing answers to questions. I'm one of those "who aims to please" and it doesn't always work out for me. I've been struggling with this question and praying for guidance. I read somewhere (was it here?)that it's only hard when it's done outside of God's will...and I'm finding this out more and more each day. If I'm not pleasing Him...He lets me know quick! Understanding this...I'm feeling a sense of freedom I never had before 'cause you can't please everybody everytime...so why try!

  2. Amen!!!

    You've touched my soul today. Just when I'm trying to compare myself to others and try sooo hard to "fit in", I sit and read your bible study and it just moves me. This was truly meant for my heart today.

    Thank you!!!

  3. Right on. Do I ask the Lord about even the smallest aspects of my life? I know I should. If I made this routine procedure the flo of prayer would be more natural I am certain. I have gotten better about not seeking approval as I live in a town where I will never be accepted so I no longer try. That is a lesson learned. Have you ever read about the monk Brother oh can't think of the name but I have his writings about "practicing the presence of God." This is the gist I feel of what you are saying. love ya, t

  4. Needed this today my friend. Thank you so very much. The message spoke straight to my heart...

    Love to you~


  5. Oh Debra, it always seems like I am doing that too.....trying to please others. It is a huge thing, issue for me......I want to please God but what will others think? This has been a great eye opener for me....I need to do more reading, there is always something to learn, that's what I love about the Bible! Thank you for this post, it really has touched my heart!
    Margaret B

  6. Oh boy. This touched me deeply. Every once in awhile I need a good reminder as to "who am I pleasing"?
    I appreciate how God has used you as a vessel to write such depply felt words.

    What a tremendous blessing!

  7. Thank you Debra for this! My response with this struggle is not always so positive. I find myself out of balance at times. Cutting people out of my life that I feel who push way too hard in getting me to please them and their needs and then I turn right around and try to "make up for it" by going the other extreme...when feeling overwhelmed because I want to please God, I sometimes, and not to sound morbid, but sometimes I find great peace with myself by reminding myself that when all is said and done, and I am finally with God, all this "mess" won't even matter. Remembering that this world is only a stop over and noy final, helps me to remember who I need to please - and that puts things right with me again.

    Thank you Debra - you have such a way to speaking the words that I need to hear just at the right moment.


  8. dear debra,

    i think i understand where you are coming from,
    because my grandmother was one of the first
    ordained methodist ministers. she upset the
    apple cart all the time but was mightily used
    by the Lord.

    good word!

  9. Dear Debra,
    Thank you for this post. I so many times stand back, unsure of God's will and therefore hardly participate in my life. It has been here, your writings that has had made me realize "the word" is God's will. I always long to know the word more, not for the sake of a quote, but to know it is God Breathed. Blessings to you.

  10. Debra,
    This spoke to me on so many levels and I saw myself in many of the situations. So hard to tell others, No. Even when you know in your heart that is the answer to give. You are right wait and pray for approval or affirmation. Those things will come if you seek and wait for the answer.


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