Seeking to know Jesus and to make Him known to others

To please or not to please?

I was recently reading a short devotional message by Timothy Keller on Psalm 26, in which he describes “the secret of true independence” as realising that “only God’s opinion counts”. David calls out to God to be his judge, to vindicate him – he does not call to his friends to defend him or to his enemies to change their minds. In 1 Corinthians 4v1-5 Paul effectively says the same thing – he cares “very little” about what others think as ultimately “It is the Lord who judges me”.
However, other passages appear to cut across this approach – for instance Proverbs 22v1 says “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold”. New Testament verses also talk about seeking to please our neighbour rather than ourselves (Romans 15v1,2) and living “such good lives among the pagans that …. they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Peter 2v12).
John Piper suggests that these passages can be reconciled by mirroring Paul’s aim to exalt our Lord Jesus Christ in our bodies, whether by life or death (Philippians 1v20,21). Thus we do care – really care – about what others think of Jesus, and so we must care what others think of us as His representatives. Piper writes, however, that the vital emphasis is as follows: “not on our value or our excellence or our virtue or our power and wisdom. It falls on whether Christ is honoured by the way people think of us. Does Christ look great because of the way we live?” Quite a challenge!
We may not actually win other people’s admiration or approval, as Jesus Himself found as He walked this earth. However, we do not change our behaviour or approach merely to win other’s approval, but solely to please and glorify the Lord.
So, to please or not to please? That is the question!
Peace and Grace
Paul