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. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
I’ve often said my greatest life flaw is that I most often simply do what I want. The problem of course, is that my appetite is inherently self-destructive. I like donuts, not broccoli. I generally hunger, not for the healthy, but for the unhealthy. This trait has led to my most obvious life failure – my drug addiction – but even sober, I still struggle with self-destructive appetites that have nothing to do with drugs. Doing what I want can manifest itself in some unexpected ways. You may think that following my will means that I don’t care what others think, but sometimes my appetite craves affirmation. So, at times, I’m a people pleaser, hoping to find gratification in knowing that everyone likes me.
Wrapped up in this flawed hunger for affirmation is conflict avoidance. For some people, their flaw is that they seek conflict. For me though, and for most of us, it’s the opposite. Conflict makes me uncomfortable, so I prefer to avoid it altogether. I need to know that I’m at peace with those around me. Everyone must like me. So, when I’m in conflict with others, I live in this constant discomfort that gnaws at my mind, making me feel unsettled and anxious.
Unfortunately, the discomfort of conflict is inevitable and sometimes, it’s necessary. When I’m traveling down a road of self-destruction, my friends need to be able to intervene. I must be willing to do the same for them. When one of my brothers is wandering, I must choose the discomfort of confrontation. The easy thing would be to avoid the conflict and simply not say anything, but that’s not the right thing. That’s just choosing the path that makes me feel good temporarily.
In today’s passage, Paul said that the gospel was given to him by God and so, he preached the gospel to please God, not man. Paul was desperately interested in the welfare of others. He wanted them to know Christ, but he didn’t concern himself with their opinion of him and he didn’t seek to please people or avoid conflict. He simply obeyed God because that’s where he found his life’s meaning.
Unfortunately, the right thing is often the uncomfortable thing. Sometimes, confrontation and conflict are necessary. When that time comes, we must remind ourselves that our responsibility isn’t to make everyone like us, but rather to do what’s right in the eyes of God.