If I seek to please man, I simply cannot be a servant of Christ. If my heart is motivated by the approval of others—if that’s my mindset, influencing the way I live—my loyalties will be divided. I’ll always be striving to please someone other than Jesus.
A few years after the apostle Paul was converted, he went to the church in Jerusalem to try and join the disciples there. “But they were…afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).
The apostles knew Paul’s reputation as a persecutor. “[I] was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed” (Galatians 1:22-23).
Barnabas helped the apostles get over their fear of Paul, and they offered him fellowship. But Paul decided to itinerate among the Gentiles. Indeed, Paul is careful to describe his calling very clearly. He states that it came “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (1:1).
He then adds emphatically: “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I nether received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…. I conferred not with flesh and blood” (1:11-12, 16).
What Paul is saying here applies to all who desire to have the mind of Christ: “I didn’t have to read books or borrow men’s methods to get what I have. I received my message, my ministry and my anointing on my knees.” In Galatians 1:17, Paul points out that, “I went into Arabia.” He’s saying, in other words: “I didn’t get my revelation of Christ from the saints in Jerusalem. Instead, I went into Arabia, to the desert, to have Christ revealed to me. I spent precious time there, being emptied of self, hearing and being taught by the Holy Spirit.”
Paul was not some proud, arrogant, lone-ranger preacher. We know he had a servant’s heart. He had emptied himself of self ambition, and had found total satisfaction in Christ.
When your mind is set on pleasing Christ, you will never need the applause and approval of men.