Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. (1 Cor 10:31-11:1)
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal 1:6-10)
In the first passage it appears that Paul is saying that he is a pleaser of men but in the second passage he is saying that he is not a pleaser of men. Why is Paul calling himself a pleaser of men in his letter to the Corinthians but in his letter to the Galatians he is saying the he is not a pleaser of men? The great commission is to make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Triune God, and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. (Mt. 28:18-20)
All that Jesus command can be summed up in what has been calledThe Great Commandment: “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)
Everything that we do as Christians should be guided by these two principles. We must seek the glory of God and the best for our neighbor. One should ask before doing anything at all, “Is what I’m about to do for the glory of God and is it the best for my neighbor?” I believe that this is what Paul was referring to in 1 Cor 9:21 when he said that he is under the law of Christ.
In the great commandment the love of God supersedes the love of one’s neighbor. Likewise, in these two Pauline epistles the glory of God supersedes the pleasing of men. For good reason, one cannot truly love one’s neighbor if one does not first love God with all of his heart, soul and mind; remember, man was created in the image of God. (Gn 1:27)
In the context of 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 the best thing that Paul could do was please all men in all things because doing so both glorified God and sought the best for his neighbor leading to their salvation. However, in the context of Gal 1:6-10 the best thing that Paul could do was revile those who preached a different gospel. He did so for the same reason he was a pleaser of men in the 1 Corinthian passage because doing so both glorified God and sought the best for his neighbor leading to their salvation.
Should we be pleasers of men? Well, it depends on the situation. If doing so seeks the glory of God and our neighbors’ best interest; yes, being a pleaser of men is the best course of action. However, if being a man pleaser does not glorify God and seek the best for our neighbor it is best that we are not pleasers of men. There are two great rules by which we should judge every situation: “The first is the glory of God, and the second is the welfare of our fellow men.”
I confess that meditating on and writing about these two passages has convicted me. Fear of not being liked by men causes me to not seek what most glorifies God or is best for my neighbor. I often seek what brings me glory to the detriment of my neighbor. I do not share the gospel in many situations because I don’t want men to be mad at me. I also, do not seek to please men if it cost me something. Lord willing, may we all seek the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbors in all things leading to their salvation.