Popularity vs. Pleasing God
In Galatians 1:10 Paul says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul makes it clear that God is the One we’re supposed to please. God has made man for Himself, and we are to live lives that are pleasing to Him and that bring Him glory.
If we’re too preoccupied with the world and what people are thinking of us, then we’re liable to compromise the Gospel. That’s what Galatians 1 is talking about—what the Gospel is. If we’re trying to please people through our sharing of the Gospel, then we’re going to end up revising God’s message and taking out the parts about sin and hell. What we’ll be left with is not the Gospel.
At the same time, Paul says in Romans 15 that we should live in such a way as to accept one another as Christ has accepted us. We’re to bear with one another. Then he says, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (v. 2). So we are supposed to please other people for their good—when it actually builds them up spiritually.
So when is it okay to please people, and when is it not okay to please people? We can please people when it’s for their ultimate good, but still is faithful to the Lord and His Word. But we should not try to please people when it means not pleasing God and compromising His truth.