Apr 14 8:35 AM
Pleasing God Over Others
Apr 14 8:35 AM
Apr 14 8:35 AM
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
1 Thessalonians 2:3-6
I want to talk to you today about our relationship to God and our relationship to people. Jesus said life is all about our relationship to God, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength," and it's all about our relationship to people, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). There is sometimes a perceived tension that you sometimes have to choose between whether you love God or love people, even if really loving God means always loving people, because you're doing the right thing. It's not easy is it?
I've heard people say, "I don't care what people think about me, I don't care." Here's the truth, we all care about what people think. Some people care way too much. Others, I haven't met too many, but some people care way too little. The truth is, we all care about what people think. To deny it is to lie to yourself. But at some point, we have to decide who matters more, God or people. I've heard people say this, "Vince, I want to get baptized, but I don't think I'm going to do it because I'm worried about what my family would think." And I will tell them, "Okay, are you worried about what God thinks?" They say, "You know, I would do that, but I don't know what people would think. They'd think I'm a Christian freak." And I would say, "Well, what does God think?" And here's the thing, if you're living for God, no matter what happens they're going to think you're a freak. So you might as well confirm it.
I get that because it's 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6. Paul was explaining his ministry to the Thessalonians. The Thessalonians had been influenced by his ministry, and many of them became Christians. He wanted to come back, but he wasn't able to. He writes First Thessalonians because they were panicked, they thought the rapture had occurred and that the Lord had already taken the church out, and they were left behind because they weren't true believers. They were young, insecure, and unsure in their faith, and Paul explains why he couldn't be there. He then defended his ministry against others who said. People were saying, "Well, Paul's not a real apostle, he's fake. He's this and that." Paul was constantly attack, and if you're in ministry long enough, there will always be people that will attack you. I'm not saying they're not sometimes right about me, or anybody else. I'm just saying that it's constant and sometimes very unfair. The apostle Paul used that opportunity to say look, I love you. But I love God even more. Look at what he says in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6, "For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed - God is our witness. We are not looking for praise from men, not from you, or anyone else."
He's saying, look, we weren't trying to trick you when we presented the gospel at some pseudo religious magic show. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, which is what accompanies an apostle. And, at the end of the day, God's going to test our hearts. He says, you know, we never used flattery, which is people pleasing. Nor did we put on a mask to cover up. We know there wasn't the COVID virus back then. To put on a mask to cover up greed was just an expression that means, "we're just nice to you to get your money." He goes on to say, we are not looking for praise from men. Not from you, or anyone else. Now that's interesting. He loved them. He cared for them. He wanted what's best for them, but he wasn't looking for praise from them. Seems so contrary to life. All I want to tell you is this, we love people. We want to please people. But we don't want to be people-pleasers. We want to be God-pleasers. Here's what I know, if you please God, he'll take care of everything else. Proverbs 16:7 says, "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." So please God, He will take care of your relationship with other people. Don't be a people-pleaser. Please people at the appropriate level, but only under the overarching principle of pleasing God first.
Father, help us to be God-pleasers first, and people-pleasers second. Let us never forget that order. Let us take our lumps when we have to, but also remember that we live for an audience of one. For whoever needs to hear this today, maybe something's going on in their life and they need this reminder, speak to them. Speak to all of us and help us live this way every day, in Jesus' name. Amen.