“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ“
For if I still
Before Paul came to Christ, he was in the business of pleasing men. He now no longer seeks to be popular among men. He no longer courts popularity with people.
The “if” clause expects a negative answer: “I don’t seek to pander to men. On the contrary, I curry God’s favor in my message.” Paul does not compromise his message to please men.
The legalists that dogged Paul’s tracks to Galatia claimed that Paul twisted his message to please the Galatians. The implication is that a grace-oriented message pleases men because the onus is off people to perform and on Christ solely. They said, “Paul accommodates his message to the opinions, desires and interests of others.” Paul never appeased men by modifying his message.
Those who court popularity at the expense of truth will forfeit the message of Christ, the message of grace.
The leader who accommodates his message to please his followers treads a very dangerous territory. Eventually he and his followers will lose the heart and soul of Christianity. The communicator of God’s message carries the full integrity of the gospel of grace.
“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith…” (Philippians 3:7-9).
To go around with a chip on our shoulder is not the point here either. We cannot preach the gospel by flagrantly “displeasing” men! We do not please people by adjusting our message but by adjusting our methods.