Whom are you trying to please: people or God? In their commentary on 1 Thessalonians, John F. Walvoord and Mark Hitchcock wrote: “The most basic test of any service rendered for God is the question, ‘Is it pleasing to Him?’ Our little houses of self-praise and self-gratification tumble in a moment when we stop to consider, ‘What does God think about it?’ . . . Paul was energized and propelled by a burning desire to please God. Certainly, this is a standard to challenge every thoughtful Christian.”
When he preached the gospel in Thessalonica, Paul was not trying to win human approval or admiration: “You know how we lived among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5). He’d arrived after an unjust imprisonment and miraculous liberation in Philippi, and despite opposition in Thessalonica as well he’d continued faithfully proclaiming the gospel (2:1–2; Acts 16:16–17:9).
The paramount motivation of Paul and his team was to please God alone (1 Thess. 2:4). Based on this governing purpose, they didn’t preach falsehoods with impure motives nor did they use deceptive rhetoric or techniques (v. 3). They were not greedy for monetary gain; they did not flatter their listeners or seek to inflate their own egos (vv. 5–6). Then as now, the integrity of the preacher goes hand-in-glove with the message!
Instead, Paul and his fellow missionaries viewed their calling as from the Lord. They’d been entrusted with the gospel. None of this was about them! Ultimately their work and motivations would be approved by God (v. 4). Rather than exercise Paul’s legitimate apostolic authority to ask for financial support (v. 6), they “were like young children among you,” that is, they took a low social position in obedience to Christ (v. 7). God Himself could witness to the veracity of these claims (v. 5).
>> It can be easy to fall into the trap of seeking to please people. What would the Lord find if He examined your heart in this area today?
Lord Jesus, we often live as if other people have the power to condemn or approve us when only you have that authority. Forgive us! Plant in us a single purpose—to live in a manner pleasing to you.