Who am I trying to please? For such a seemingly simple question the answer to it holds immense implications. Paul says that if he were still pleasing people he would not be serving Christ. At first this statement confused me, surely one can make decisions that are designed to please both other people and God, indeed, I can think of quite a few. But these are not the situations to which Paul is referring; what Paul is saying is that, when it comes down to it, making decisions that are in accord with Christ’s teachings is one of the marks of a true follower of Christ.
I know that I should probably ask myself this question more often because I am, naturally, a person who tries to please others and this can sometimes lead to messy situations. In my senior year of high school our choir teacher decided that she was unable to put on a musical, I responded, in what I now see as a rash way, by writing an editorial that was quite rude; in my mind my cause was a righteous one, I was in the right, the choir teacher in the wrong, but my actions proved quite hurtful. I was not practicing Christian love through my actions, in fact, reflecting on it, I realize that this impaired my ability live as a light for Christ; I aimed purely to please others with no regard for what the Christian thing to do was.
Acting to please God, though, does not guarantee that choices will be painless; many times convictions go against popular sentiment, but this does not mean they should be abandoned. Recently my parents asked me to live with different people when I return to college next year. They risked a lot to ask me to live somewhere else — that request could have pushed me away, and it did upset me, but they did it because they decided to serve God above all else, they trusted that He would provide a better living situation than the one I had arranged. Now I have a new place to live next year, and this situation has provided an opportunity for dialogue that has strengthened my relationship with my parents.
May we have the courage to ask who we aim our actions to please, and trust Him to take care of the rest.