Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who Do You Work For?

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

When meeting someone for the first time, there are a few common questions we ask when making small talk.  We ask about their family, their line of work, and we ask who they work for.  These give us something to talk about, and begin the remainder of those introductory conversations.

In Galatians 1, Paul speaks to the Galatians about whom he works for, and in his subtle way, approaches the subject of who is getting their hardest efforts.  The one who controls our life is often not our employer, and never pays our salary.  In fact, sometimes our job is just a notch on a bigger belt of things we’re pushing to accomplish in order to serve our true employer. 

Paul tells the Galatians that he doesn’t serve people, because if he did, he could not also serve Christ.  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” Jesus is referencing those that are in love with riches rather than God, but the same is true of those who are in love with pleasing people.  You can either serve people or serve God, but you cannot do both.  Somewhere along the way, the two entities will disagree on your proper behavior, and you’ll have to decide who you will serve.

I grew up hearing the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”, which means that we strive to keep up with those that are receiving the favor of men so that we are accepted as well.  This is often the rich, well educated, well dressed, driving the finest car and living in a big glamorous home.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” became a way of living.  On Sundays we dressed up for church rather than wearing the clothes God saw us in all week.  When going into town to shop we were to be on our best behavior, rather than acting like we did at home when God was watching.  When we ate in public, we had to have “manners” rather than our normal means of shoving food into our mouths. 

The problem is that with all our efforts to please people, we never succeeded in pleasing them all.  People are fickle.  Today they want you to wear chevron print clothes.  Tomorrow they want you to wear geographic prints.  But next week, they may want you to wear t-shirts and jeans again.  Today they might favor the Escalade, and tomorrow the most respectable car may be a Prius.  Today they might respect you if you join the golf club, but tomorrow they might disrespect you if you haven’t joined the health club.  Today they might respect your relationship with Christ, and tomorrow they might prefer you not bring it up at the party.  After being on the rollercoaster of people pleasing for years, I got off!  It was a life that never included acceptance for who I was.

How did I get off?  I discovered someone who accepted me as I was, in t-shirt and jeans, overweight, without good manners, driving a car I’d had for years, and living as I wanted.  Working for God is different.  His acceptance is simple – love him and obey him.  It’s been the same for all time because God does not change (Malachi 3:6).  His rules are so steadfast that they’ve been in print for years without having to be amended. 

Listen to how Jesus encourages us to come to Him, and allow Him to be our focus.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  While people pleasing offers you the work of maintenance of their respect, coupled with continual condemnation and ridicule, Jesus offers rest for your soul.  He says to take up His yoke, which refers to His way of living, because it’s easy and not a burden. 

In the words of Joshua from Joshua 24:15, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”.  You can get off the rollercoaster any time you want.  What you cannot do is serve people and God.  So, how will you answer the question?  Who do you work for?


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