We are not trying to please men… 1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV)
There was a second accusation against Paul—that he was motivated by a desire for the approval of others. You can see that from his answer in verses 4-6:
- We are not trying to please men (2:4).
- You know we never used flattery (2:5).
Flattery is telling someone else how great they are so that they will think more highly of you. Someone has said that flattery is saying to someone’s face what you would never say behind their back!
- We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else (2:6).
If Paul’s definition of success had been that everybody should think well of him, he could not have been faithful as an apostle. This issue of looking for praise, acceptance, and love from other people runs deep in all of us. We all want others to think well of us.
Faith will be impossible for you if you allow yourself to be motivated by the approval of other people. Jesus spoke about this: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). You cannot be a Christian if you allow yourself to be motivated by the approval of other people.
When are you most prone to the desire to please others? How does this impact your ability to live for the gospel?