Galatians 1.10 asks, am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Why is it that man pleasers and God pleasers are not synonymous? How is it that pleasing men keeps us from serving Christ? Relational evangelism has led many Christians to believe they are at least closely related. In trying to win people to Christ we try to become friends with men. Indeed, Jesus was a friend of sinners! So it seems Paul’s words conflicts with Jesus’ work.
Jesus remained loyal and obedient to His message, the message that God requires men to repent and to obey Him, even while befriending sinners. He spoke this message while serving men, not trying to please men. Therein lies the difference between Jesus and so many Christians. We try to please men in order to win men.
We try to please men as we try to please our children, by giving into them in order to win our children, hopefully and eventually, to our point of view. It doesn’t work. Bribing our children may temporarily earn their cooperation but the bribes will have to continue and increase if we are to retain their loyalty. Cooperation occurs with three year-olds sometimes but rarely wins the twenty-three year old to our worldview parenting this way.
Jesus did not bribe people with good works in order to get them to serve Him or to listen to Him. Jesus served people out of genuine love for them but spoke truth to them leaving their response to Him their own responsibility. This resulted in many walking away from Him when He laid out the cost of following Him.
All those who were with Him were required to repent, to sin no more, to take up their cross, die to self, and follow Him, doing everything He commanded if they wanted to become one of His disciples. This is the what Paul means in this passage.
We must repent from our disregard for God and obey Jesus’s commands if we would truly love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Serving Jesus means calling men out of darkness and calling men up to Christ likeness. Serving is giving oneself sacrificially expecting nothing in return but requiring those who would do likewise, serve Christ, to do so sacrificially as well. Pleasing God is giving away our lives in order to win men to Christ.
We cannot give God our life and please men for men naturally despise God and His ways of unconditional love, abject humility and sacrificial service. Yet this is to be the character of the God pleaser and the message he brings to all men everywhere.
Some will receive it but many will reject it, despising the servant of God, finding him weak in a world that honors the survival of the fittest. We cannot be a God pleaser and a man pleaser and be a Christian.