For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
I. CHRISTIAN FIRMNESS IS NOT SELF-WILLED INDIFFERENCE TO HUMAN OPINION. On the contrary, the Christian is anxious to please and yield to others wherever his own interests alone are concerned. Many things he might rightly claim, he will shrink from pressing; many things that he may suffer, he will quietly submit to, rather than irritate the minds of men against the piety that he professes, or close the door against the future possibility of being the instrument of their conversion. Self-renunciation for the honour of God, or for the good of man, is the special spirit of a Christian. Nay, more; he will spare the feelings and humours of men whenever he lawfully can, doing things in their way rather than his own, being careful of appearances as well as realities. (Romans 12:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 8:21; 1 Timothy 3:7; etc.)
II. NOR IS IT SELFISH INATTENTION TO HUMAN WELFARE. Salvation is not to be achieved in isolated effort, but is wrought out in the very nourishment and growth of those affections, occupations, and energies, which our duties in the world produce. There cannot be a genuine desire to save our own soul, a true Christian spirit of personal piety, which will not, from its very nature, expand beyond the confines of our own bosom, and overflow in copious streams towards all with whom we have to do.
III. IT IS SIMPLY PARAMOUNT OBEDIENCE TO DIVINE AUTHORITY. Pleasing men must always be subordinate to pleasing God. Every concession must be with a reservation of our Master's rights and privileges, honour and authority; every treaty must be so, for it is only good as it may be acknowledged and ratified by Him. All things may be tried for Him; hut nothing listened to against Him.
Parallel VersesKJV: For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.