Paul wrote letters. Not textbooks, self-help manuals, or novels, but letters. Some letters, like Romans or Philippians, were letters to churches. Other letters, like the first and second letter to Timothy or Philemon, were letters to individuals. In Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, he makes it clear from the “get go” that he is not writing “warm fuzzies” to make them feel better about themselves. Paul writes in obedience to God’s call on his life. He writes to urge and encourage others to live for the glory of God. He writes what his friends need to hear rather than what they might want to hear. People tend to shy away from folks like Paul, but I’ve learned that I desperately need a Paul in my life to tell me what I need to hear, rather than to simply tell me what I want to hear. Because of Paul’s boldness, he often ruffles feathers, stirs the pot, and is labeled, by some, as harsh.
Paul’s approach to life and his relationship with his friends is so unlike our approach. Most often, we set our sights on being liked by others. In order to be liked we say things to others that will hopefully led them to like us. We act and behave in a manner around our friends that will lead them to conclude that we are fun to be around.
For those who are not followers of Jesus this is certainly understandable. For me, and anyone else that has committed their lives to Jesus, to live in His will and for His glory, this is totally unacceptable. John wrote, 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 NIV)
I am to love people, but not their approval. I am called to love all people, but not their acceptance. My significance is never to be based on the accolades or applause I receive from others, but it is to be solely derived from my relationship with the Father. The only approval rating I need is His, and He has already approved me through the sacrificial love of His Son. Paul said that it is an “either/or” proposition–I can either live my life to please people, or I can be a servant of God, but I can’t have both.
My prayer today, Lord, is that my heart’s desire will be to please You and not people. I want to be Your servant and not the slave of the approval of people.