Living to Please God
“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!” (Acts 9:26)
I was shocked in my recent reading of this. There were people who did not believe that Saul had truly become a believer! I’ve read Acts before, but I did not remember this verse, and I found it refreshing and relatable. After my own conversion, I had people in my life who did not believe it or refused to accept it. Some said they believed, but they would say, “But you’re still the same guy.” No. I’m not. It can be difficult knowing who you are and hearing that people see you a different way.
This moment in Acts 9 was shortly after Saul’s conversion. He had become notorious for arresting Christians and attacking the faith, but Saul didn’t let other people’s doubts and opinions of him affect his emotions or how he saw himself. He didn’t hang his head and say, “well, they’re probably right about me,” or “how can I ever convince them I have changed?” He had one person vouch for him to the apostles, and Saul kept spreading the Good News of Christ, even debating with people who wanted to kill him. He didn’t work to please them or prove anything to them; he worked to please God and live in obedience to Him.
You might have people like this in your life, those who have an old idea of you in their head and who refuse to accept/believe that you have truly become a believer. That’s okay. It sucks, but it’s okay. It’s not a surprise that Paul is the one who wrote, “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” (Galatians 1:10). You don’t have to hang your head or live in doubt because of someone else’s problem. You don’t have to allow someone else’s perception of you to affect or influence your perception of yourself. You are not living to please people. You are living to please God.
“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’” (James 2:17-18)
It may take time but through your works, people will see Jesus. Saul went on to be known as Paul and became one of the greatest champions of our faith. His works certainly proved his conversion. It may take time for people to accept that Jesus has truly changed you, and perhaps some never will, but that is between them and God. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Keep your identity firmly rooted in the Rock, in who God says you are, His masterpiece, His truly loved child, forgiven and set free.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.