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Sermon #75: In the Service of the Lord


 “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.” – Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

I love this. The position is neatly spelt out. “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ,” Paul declared.

A servant is a person who works for somebody. A servant is a person who does the will of their Master. If they turn away from the will of their Master, then they cease to be a servant. Disobedience is not service. Rebellion is not service. In fact, disobedience and rebellion fight against the will of the Master!

Paul said, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Paul was a bond servant of Christ. He once referred to himself as a person who was 'set apart' for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul knew exactly who he was and what he was expected to do. He also knew exactly who he was not and what he was not expected to do. So should you and me; we should never compromise the life given to us in Christ Jesus, a life so valuable that Jesus had to hang on the cross for us to receive it!

Here is the point – you should never seek to please people; they are not your masters. You should seek to please the Lord always. In doing so you will please some people; you will also displease the rest. 

Here is the point again – never get worried if you find that some people are displeased with you if their displeasure emanates from you pleasing the Lord. 

You simply cannot afford to please people by displeasing the Lord! Paul went to great lengths to please the Lord. In the process he displeased some people but Paul never concerned himself with such displeasure.

If you are concerned about what people think about your service to God, or about your salvation, or about your separation from ungodly practices and traditions, then you seek to please people.

There are people today whose only claim to Christianity is that they attend church. Besides that they are exactly the same as people who still wonder what church is! 

But what does the Bible teach? Listen to this: “Now honor the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you...” - Ezra 10:11 (NIV) 

This does not mean that one has to physically relocate, but certainly one needs to totally relocate in the spirit if indeed Jesus Christ has become their Saviour and Lord.

As His life on earth was about to come to an end, Jesus prayed for His disciples as follows:  “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." - John 17:13-16 (NIV)

So you will continue to live among them and to show them the gracious nature of the Christian, but you will need to migrate in the spirit.

But what exactly does pleasing people mean, in practical terms? Here are examples:
  • Someone you respect tells you to do something that you clearly know to be out of line with the will of God, and you proceed to do so simply because you do not want to displease them.
  • You avoid teaching or discussing some genuine biblical truths simply because some people would be offended. Or you even behave in a manner that suggests you actually approve of the same, or you even misrepresent that God accepts it – simply because you do not want to offend people practising it. Yet in your hypocrisy you actually deprive some an opportunity to repent.
  • You follow your friends in doing something wrong simply because you feel a sense of belonging to the group, or you accept to be ridiculed into such practices - giving in to peer pressure.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” - 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV). 

The objective of such teachers is to please people, by so doing displeasing the Lord.

In the service of the Lord, therefore, we please people by pleasing God.