What Men-pleasers do (see Gal. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:4)
Warren E. Berkley
They seek the approval of men above the approval of God. The rule is, human beings have a propensity that welcomes the praise of their fellows. While there may be exceptions, the rule is we enjoy being complimented or honored. The danger is, we can easily become intoxicated and consumed by this need, then crave the praise of men. The next step in this moral digression is, to seek human approval as a personal priority. Those exposed by the Lord in Matthew 6 were guilty of this. They did their “charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” The same motive prompted their ostentatious praying and fasting. Among some of the leading Pharisees, there was at least intellectual confidence in the claims of Christ, but “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,” (Jno. 12:41). Again the problem was described by our Lord when He said: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their father to the false prophets,” (Lk. 6:26). Men-pleasers seek the approval of men above the approval of God. Let us aim higher. The personal priority of every child of God must be, to seek the approval of God, regardless of how men respond to our preaching and practice. Our Father is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” (Heb. 11:6).
They adapt their message to their audiences. Men-pleasers deliver to their audiences that which will elicit their approval. They have made this their priority. In every time of controversy since Pentecost, there have been men catering to the crowd; even changing and adapting their message from audience to audience, not out of conviction, but to please and to become known as crowd pleasers. Paul and Timothy are examples of men who were not willing to do this. Paul told the Corinthians: “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church,” (1 Cor. 4:17). When people (baptized or not) “will not endure sound doctrine,” they should hear it anyway, regardless of response or consequence. When sound doctrine is not the desire of heart, audiences will “heap up for themselves teachers,” and men-pleasers will heap up for themselves a following. (See 2 Tim. 4:1-5) This craving to please your audience can quickly lead to language so concerned with diplomacy, it conveys nothing substantial or scriptural, only sentiment.
They carefully avoid negative pronouncements. Though God requires preachers to “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching,” this duty is neglected by men-pleasers in situations where such wouldn’t be welcomed. It is one thing to “speak the truth in love,” (Eph. 4:15), but to speak without truth is not loving, even if praised and applauded by men. There is the exhibition of this, when preachers step so delicately, they trample over truth to keep people happy. An honest reading of 1, 2 Timothy and Titus can bring us to a better understanding of real preaching, and supply both motive and method to avoid the immature, frenzied work to gain the good esteem of men, leaving truth unspoken and sinners lost. Preachers who are “running for office,” seeking trophies from men, building an image, leading a movement, proving their soundness by campaign, or otherwise ill-motivated will wind up withholding needed truth or twisting scripture. The response by faithful brethren should be to use every legitimate means to stop the mouths of vain talkers (Titus 1:9-13, Jude 3, ).
They will use association to generate favor (politics). When preaching and practice is aimed to please a group, gain the favor of well-known brother or gain access to a circle or cliché, the point has been missed altogether. When a “brotherhood writer” pens an article to lobby for entrance or acceptance of men, he should not be published if the motive is known. Men-pleasers eventually fall into the sin of undisciplined fellowship, endorsement of anyone baptized and this means – giving no heed to God’s instructions as to one’s association (Rom. 16:17; Eph. 5:11, etc.). Do we not know that “friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (Jas. 4:4). And what a contrast, that some preachers seek reputation when Jesus “made Himself of no reputation,” (Phil. 2:7)!
Every preacher needs to ask himself the question stated in Galatians 1:10. “Do I seek to please men?” Paul responded: “For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Get the point? The men-pleaser in Gal. 1:10 is not a servant of Christ.