Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking to please people or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Here is the question all believers must ask themselves. It comes in the context proclaiming the true gospel and Paul’s concern that the Galatians have been receptive to false teaching. Paul reveals his own motive in this verse. If Paul’s goal was to please people, he would not be a slave of Christ. Christ was Paul’s master and everything Paul did was under the lordship of Christ. Why would Paul suffer the pain and ridicule he went through in his ministry if it was to please people? He had a higher calling the superseded the comforts of this life. He was not in ministry for the honor, position, power, authority, or attention.
If anyone is in ministry for these reasons, that person will only experience spiritual defeat and open him or herself up to temptations. A dangerous temptation that could result is to make the preaching or teaching of the gospel about oneself and human effort to be holy and righteous, resulting in distorting and even heresy. This was one of the key faults of the opponents in Galatia.
The principle in this verse applies not just to preaching or teaching in a church but all of life. What motivates one in school, work, and life? If we seek to please God in all things, God will bless us with peace. That does not mean that we will never face suffering. Rather, we should expect it since our light shines brighter in the darkness. It is good to ask ourselves Paul’s question in whatever circumstance in which we find ourselves. How can we know whether we are seeking to please people or God? Are we doing our work whole-heartedly as if we were working for Christ (Colossians 3:23)?
For Paul in his call to preach the gospel, the stakes were ultimately high. He was dealing with matters of eternity, so that is why he brings up condemnation in vv. 8-9. The gospel is not something to be compromised. Whoever has responsibility for teaching others must check motives and message. This includes everyone from parents teaching their children, to pastors preaching to their churches, to teachers guiding their students. For “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).
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