May 29, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,

1 Thessalonians 2:4. "We are not trying to please men but God who tests our hearts."

As we study through 1 Thessalonians in my current video sermon series, we have found that certain people were accusing Paul of preaching a message motivated by the desire to please men rather than God.  Perhaps it was because he was preaching a gospel of freedom in Christ as opposed to the message of legalism which kept men under bondage to the law.  Who wouldn't desire freedom over legalism?  A message surely designed to please men.  Or it may have been Paul's approach to winning as many people to faith in Christ as possible, when he stated in 1 Corinthians 9:22. "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."  Some of his detractors therefore, accused him of being wishy-washy in his principles and convictions.  He would do anything to make a convert.  But Paul answered his critics by saying that his motivation was single-minded.  1 Thessalonians 2:5. "You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed - God is our witness.  6.We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else."

The temptation to please men rather than God is an issue all Christians deal with.  Whether young in the faith or more mature, Christians find themselves engaged in this struggle.  A Christian should never use his birth order as an excuse for his moral failures as an adult.  But as I look back on my own upbringing, I can see how being the middle child of three left its mark on me.  In almost every study done on the personality traits related to one's birth order, at the top of the list of positive traits for a middle child is "peacemaker" or "agreeable."  A middle child likes to get along with everyone.  He likes things to be calm and peaceful around him.  He will give his energy to bringing this about.

On the other hand, at the top of the list of the middle child's negative traits is invariably "people-pleaser."  In order to secure his tranquil and peaceful surroundings, he will go too far in allowing others to influence his decisions and choices.  For me this has always been the challenge:  AM I GOING LIVE TO PLEASE OTHERS OR TO PLEASE GOD?

Aesop was a Greek storyteller who lived 600 years before Christ.  His stories and fables always taught strong moral principles.  From his most famous collection Aesop's Fables comes the story of The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey. 

"A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market.  As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said, "You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?"  So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way.  
But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, "See that lazy youngster.  He lets his father walk while he rides."  So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself.  

But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along."  
Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey.  By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them.  The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at.  The men said, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey or yours with yourself and your hulking son?"
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do.  They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders.  They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole.  In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together, he was drowned.
"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them.  "Please all, and you please none."

There is much truth conveyed here in this ancient fable.  Let us all make it our aim in life to please God rather than men in all we do.

2 Corinthians 5:9. "Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or away, to be pleasing to Him."

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick

Sermons Online
Pastor Rick will be posting a video sermon every Sunday on our church website until we are able to meet together again for worship in our sanctuary. Pray with me that will be soon!

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