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)
During my reading, I came across this verse and it struck me. I was reading, and I just had to pause and look at it again. I knew this truth, and I feel I was living it, but this verse stuck out to me from all the rest. So, I am going to write about it. I hope you will join me.
This verse is surrounded by Paul talking about people who teach something contrary to what the Gospel of truth is. After it, he goes on to tell his testimony to those in Galatia. It’s a powerful testimony, for any who carry to read it. It can be found in the first chapter of Galatians.
But, this verse is caught in the middle. What does Paul mean then, by asking if He is trying to win favor of men, or of God? Taking the verse in context, it sounds like those who seek the approval of men are teaching things contrary to the Gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:6-9)
Here’s another example –
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)
The teachers in this last verse are seeking the approval of men, and not God.
So, this word ‘servant’, what does it mean? The word in Greek is, doulos. It means this-
Outline of Biblical Usage:
1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a) a slave
b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c) devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
2) a servant, attendant (retrieved from the Blue Letter Bible app)
The powerful nature of this verse is found in that definition. Paul is saying that if we seek the approval of men, we have not devoted our lives to God as we should.
We seek God’s approval. We do that by giving of ourselves to Him, to the point that our devotion is in disregard to our own interests (1, c). The statement that if we seek approval of men then we are not servants of Christ gives me this revelation.
What this verse says to me is that we should really be seeking God’s approval, and not that of men. Now, we are to win the love of nonbelievers, for God and not us. We are to direct them to the truth of the Gospel by making disciples and teaching them. We can’t do this without their approval, right?
Well, here’s the thing. The Bible has some pretty hard truths in it. We should teach those too, and not worry about what happens. If we don’t teach the whole Bible, but only the good parts…we teach something contrary to the word of God. The Gospel is the teachings and good news of Jesus, who is God. He came to fulfill the Law of Moses, not to do away with it. The good news is that salvation is finally here, and it can’t be found within the Law. But, the law is now written on our hearts and we should follow that law (Jeremiah 31:31-40). Salvation is found in the final sacrifice of Jesus.
My point is that if we seek God’s approval, and not that of men, our light will shine forth and we will be true light and salt to the world. Salt isn’t pleasant, but it cures and preserves. Look at Paul. He was persecuted many times for this Gospel. He wasn’t persecuted for saying nice things. He was persecuted for saying the truth of the Gospel. Beware false teachers who water down the gospel to being a gospel of men and not of God.
Paul follows the verse I’ve been talking about with this:
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. (Galatians 1:11)
Believe me, I am not saying that we should seek out persecution. But! Persecution will come to those who teach the true Gospel.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Don’t dull this sword by watering down the Gospel. Don’t take the saltiness out of the Christian. Follow God’s heart, learn His will, and go do it. Be a servant to God, as we are called to be. Love your neighbor as yourself. Serve your neighbor. Win them over with your love. But ultimately seek the approval of God in all that you do.