Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6
1 You yourselves know,dear brothers and sisters,that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly,in spite of great opposition. 3 So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God,not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 5 Never once did we try to win you with flattery,as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6 As for human praise,we have never sought it from you or anyone else. (NLT)
As the old saying goes,”you can’t please everyone”. So when our lives are centred around keeping everyone else happy,we are destined for lives of frustration and futility. Please one person and another person is displeased.
But there are other problems with such a life focus. We lose sight of who we truly are. We become creatures of others’ expectations instead of living out our true destiny as uniquely fashioned children of God. And when it comes to sharing and living out our faith we will inevitably tailor our message and our conduct so as to keep others happy.
This is what Paul has resisted. He hasn’t resorted to cheap flattery or unscrupulous money-making motives. He has given them gospel truth,seeking thereby to please God rather than gaining applause from his audience. In our consumer-oriented society,it is all too easy to reshape the message of God in order to keep in the good books of those who pay our wages or who make up our constituency.
It is helpful and encouraging to receive praise from others. But not at the expense of the integrity of our character or the integrity of the faith we proclaim.