Summary: The Gospel is not about 1) Pleasing People; 2) A Human Centered Message; 3) A Human Devised Message, but a 4) Christ Centered Message.
Now that the Olympics are wrapping up in Beijing, one of the strangest events took place. International Olympic Commission President Jacques Rogge said that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was disrespectful to his rivals. He saw it as a disrespectful display of Ego as Usain won gold in the men’s 4X100-meter relay.. The irony, is that many commentators see China’s hosting of the Olympics itself as an ego display. Not for the international community, but to its own people that they are such a great country. (Agence France-Presse “Bolt Having Fun; No Disrespect” as appeared in The National Post. Saturday August 23rd, 2008. p. S5)
Ego can indeed be a destructive thing. Internationally, countries have gone to war over words. The ability to save face, has diverted many conflicts. Ego can prevent conversation, put barriers up between people and prevent the meaningful exchange of ideas.
Paul’s fight over truth recorded in the book of Galatians seems to come to a head over the issue of ego. It is an avenue that the false teaching Judaizers attack Paul, and an issue that he has to work though his background and put the issue squarely back to truth. The book of Galatians itself falls into three sections of two chapters each. In the first two chapters Paul recounts his spiritual autobiography. His life story shows that he is a true apostle who preaches the true gospel of free grace. The theology of the one true gospel is expounded in chapters three and four. Finally in chapters five and six, Paul takes his theology and applies it to daily life, explaining the ethical implications.
For each of us, it can be difficult to separate ourselves from our message. How tightly we cling to our own ego has a tremendous implication for what we aim for. Are we going to do everything in our power for as many people to like us personally, or is truth something to make a line in the sand for, regardless of the consequences.
In Galatians 1:10–12 the Apostle Paul shows presenting the Gospel is not about 1) Pleasing People; 2) A Human Centered Message; 3) A Human Devised Message, but a 4)Christ Centered Message.
The Gospel is Not About:
1) Pleasing People. (Galatians 1:10)
Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (ESV)
Paul now begins to elaborate the point the made in verse 1, namely, that the gospel is not “from men” but from God. It is not designed to please men, as if God had to cajole and entice them to believe. It is “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1), designed to promote the glory of God and of his Christ (Edgar H. Andrews. Free in Christ: The message of Galatians. Evangelical Press. 1996. p. 28)
Gar (for) has numerous meanings, which are largely determined by context. It can also be translated “because,” “yes, indeed,” “certainly,” “what,” and “why.” It can also sometimes mean “there,” which is a helpful rendering in this verse. “There,” he is saying, referring back to the strong anathemas of the previous two verses, “does that sound like I am a people pleaser? Am I now seeking the approval/favor of man, or of God? Or am I striving to please man?” When Paul talks about the approval/favor of man he is talking about appeasement. Obviously, Paul’s pronouncing a curse on men (v. 9) does not fit with the accusations of the Judaizers against him. Rather, it unquestionably seeks to honor God, whose truth was being perverted.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (ESV)
Quote: One commentator reflected on this trend like this: “In a market-driven age we are accustomed to think of every church having a special niche, of every visitor as a prospective customer, and every aspect of worship designed to satisfy the consumers. Paul was reminding the Galatians that the gospel was not a product to be peddled on the marketplace of life. It has no need of shrewd salesmen to make it more palatable to modern tastes. The gospel has its own self-generating, dynamic authority and need not be propped up by artificial means, however sophisticated or alluring. One day every person called to the ministry of the word of God must give an account for the stewardship of that office. On that day we will either be “disqualified for the prize” or hear those coveted words, “Well done, faithful servant.” God, not any human audience, is our true constituency”. (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (101). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)