“For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.”
The apostle Paul was standing firm on His conviction and obedience to preach the gospel of Christ without attempting to alter it in any shape or form to please his audience or to escape their anger. There is always a temptation within the flesh to change the truth when there is potential retaliation or controversy involved. Yet, Paul did not waver. Paul strongly stated, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” Paul understood that he could not sit comfortably on the fence. He was either a slave for Christ or an enemy of God’s truth. He knew the truth and he refused to conform to the expectations of his audience because He knew the truth would set them free! This is standing firm on the solid rock of Christ! This is true faith…I believe…do you?
In full transparency, this verse in Galatians still pierces my heart every time I read it. During my college freshman year at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana, which is now ULM, I surrounded myself with strong Christian believers. I knew it was vital to my Christian health and to continue my spiritual growth as a very young adult away from my parents. As my first year of college was coming to a close, a close friend and prayer partner asked to meet with me for Bible study, prayer, and to simply visit. This was pretty typical so I was excited for the opportunity to sharpen each other through God’s word and revelation. To my surprise, this mentor and friend read this verse and said the following words, “I feel as though you spend a great deal of time working to please others and should instead work to please God in all that you do.”
Heartbreak…I would be lying if I told you that I openly accepted this revelation and spiritual correction. Instead, I distinctively remember feelings of anger, pride, and even embarrassment rushing to the surface. I thought, “How could he say that about me?” I sadly internalized that moment and used it to fuel a seed of anger. I learned to be quick to anger and impatient. It wasn’t until many years later through many more encounters with the love of Christ that I finally broke…my friend was right all those years ago! I did spend countless hours, years, and possibly decades working to please those around me to be accepted. Yet, God was standing with open arms the entire time gently calling, “I accept you just the way you are, come to Me!” My entire personality changed. I became softer, more compassionate, loving, long-suffering, and empathic. My focus was firmly on Christ. This reminds me of Colossians 3:17 that says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Expectations can be positive generating where one is motivated to achieve far more than ever imagined. On the other hand, expectations can mimic chains which are imposed unjustly where one is bound in place. Today, I pray that you break the chains of expectation! Christ came to set the captives free! You are here on this earth for a greater purpose and it is not to simply win the favor of people. You are here to share the gospel of Christ to all the nations of the world.
Question: Are you being held down by the expectations of others? Are you striving to win the favor of people or God?