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.
When King Saul spared King Agag and the best of the livestock instead of following God’s command to destroy everything, he demonstrated that public opinion and popularity were greater in his life than God. He told Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them” (1 Samuel 15:24). He feared people more then God.
When Samson loved Delilah more than God and feared losing her sexual attention more then he feared sinning against the LORD, he gave into her nagging and revealed the secret of his strength (Judges 16). He was bound with more than bronze shackles. He was snared by the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25).
When David feared the scandal that would surely take place if his secret affair with Bathsheba became public knowledge, he went to murderous lengths to cover it up (2 Samuel 11). He despised God’s Word instead of honoring it.
Abraham feared Abimelech and lied about his wife. Elijah feared Jezebel and ran for his life. Peter feared those who persecuted Jesus. Three times he denied his Lord.
In the Gospels we learn of those who believed in Christ. There was the Samaritan woman and many from her village, the man born blind, Zacchaeus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and religious leaders. Yes, religious leaders. But fear kept them from saying so. Many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God (John 12:42-43). They feared being thrown out of the synagogue more than entering the Kingdom. It was of higher importance to receive praise from people than approval from God.
When we fear people more than their Maker, we make much of man and less of God. Paul makes it clear that we can’t be people-pleasers and servants of Christ. We’re either slaves to people–fearing disapproval or craving approval, or we’re slaves to our Master. There’s no possibility of God and others sharing center stage in our heart or lives. Who’s the greatest in your life?
HE>i: When are you most tempted to be a people-pleaser? Think about what changes need to be made in this relationship(s) to win the approval of God.
To trust God rather than to fear man is to obey God’s clear directives, regardless of popular opinion, apparent wisdom or the prospects for success.
John A. Kitchen
grace and peace,