James Smith, 1860
It is no part of a Christian's business, more especially of a Christian minister, to please man. We should not needlessly offend, much less grieve our fellow-men — but we are not to conceal God's truth, or compromise God's cause, in order to please any man, or any number of men. We, as redeemed from among men — we, as possessing the Spirit of Christ — we, as witnesses for God, should be fearless, neither courting the smiles, nor fearing the frowns of any. To please man, should neither be your aim, nor object; therefore, if at any time we are tempted to do so, let us think of Paul's words, "If I yet pleased men — I would not be the servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10.
Every believer professes to be Christ's servant. To serve him, we were called out of the world, where we were said to stand idle — because we were not doing anything that will count for eternity. We are brought to know him, love him, and highly esteem him, not only as our Savior — but as our Master. We are appointed to stand before him, wait upon him, and obey him. We are sent into the vineyard, with the command, "Son, go work today in my vineyard."
As the servants of Christ, each one should have a single eye to the Master's glory — a devoted heart in the Master's service — an unwearied foot in the Master's ways — a diligent hand for the Master's work — a bold forehead in the Master's cause — a tender conscience for the Master's honor — an open ear to receive the Master's commands — a fortified judgment to the Master's praise — a courageous heart before the Master's foes — and a zealous uncompromising spirit in the Master's world. Each servant of Christ should be zealous — as one who must give account. Each servant of Christ should jealous — as serving one who will not give his glory to another. Each servant of Christ should determined — as one who expects to be rewarded for his fidelity. What a Master we serve! What favors we receive! What service we should render! What a crown we shall receive!
But, if instead of being whole-hearted in our Master's cause, if instead of seeking to please and honor him — we aim to please and gain the applause of men — we are not the servants of Christ. There are four sorts of men, who will wish, and perhaps expect us to please them — but they are totally unworthy of it. There are, carnal men — conceited men — erroneous men and lordly men. But to please them, would be to sacrifice truth, conscience, and character. It would insult God, dishonor the Lord Jesus, and prove that the flesh rules in us. The results would be that Jesus would disown us, and instead of, "Well done, good and faithful servant," we would hear, "Depart from me, for I know you not!"
If we make it our object and aim to please man — we renounce Christ as our Master, and look to others. If we only do this in part, we act unworthy of our character, profession, and word. We ensure the frown of the Master, and the marked disapprobation of the Judge of all. We may expect to be cast away, or disapproved — and then our gifts will wither, our graces decline, our efforts be powerless, a darkness will come over us, and the visits and manifestations of Jesus will be withheld. Darkness that may be felt, will brood over the soul, a thousand fears will haunt us, or carnality and stupefaction will petrify the mind.
Brethren, if we profess to be the servants of Christ, let us serve him with all the heart, let us serve him with all our talents, let us serve him all our days. Let us make it our constant aim to please him, and the business of our lives to bring glory to his adorable name. Let neither poverty deter us, nor riches draw us aside, when engaged in his work. Let us fear no man's frown, nor covet any man's smile — but go forward in our way, and persevere in our work, until we hear the Master's voice saying, "Call the laborers, and give them their hire." To serve Christ heartily — is our highest honor. To enjoy the inward persuasion that we are pleasing him — is a present heaven. But to be half-hearted, undecided, or equivocating in reference to him or his service — is an everlasting disgrace — a blot and dishonor not easily wiped away.