Paul had to deliver some tough news to his church in Galatia. The church that he helped start was turning away from God. They were twisting the teachings of Jesus and following some questionable leaders. Paul loved this church a lot, but it was time for some tough love. He knew this wouldn’t be a welcome letter, but these were the words that the church needed to hear and Paul was able to deliver them because he wasn’t in the business of collecting praise. In Galatians 1:10 Paul writes, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
Paul had found the freedom of no longer needing praise from other people. By its very nature, praise is not a bad thing. After working really hard on something, it feels good to receive some healthy praise from others. The problem with praise comes when we become addicted to this feeling. We chase after praise as the main goal of everything we do. We allow praise, or lack thereof, to determine how we feel about ourselves.
Paul says if we are focused on trying to win the approval of people, it’s a lot harder to follow Christ. Jesus didn’t collect a lot of praise during his ministry. He was often critiqued for breaking social norms. He was mocked for hanging out with the wrong people. He was only concerned about pleasing God, even if led to disapproval from others. He demonstrated that real joy is found in living for God instead of others. He invites us to experience that same joy by fasting from collecting praise and living into the freedom of being who God created us to be.