On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV)
Paul serves as such a wonderful example of faithfulness in spite of intense opposition. He traveled over a significant portion of the Roman empire, proclaiming the gospel and establishing new churches. And there seems to be no place he went, apart maybe from his home church in Antioch, where he did not face opposition. Yet Paul never backed down. He was always faithful, regardless of the personal cost.
Paul’s motivation in preaching the gospel was not for personal gain. And, in actuality, there seems to have been little physical gain for him in what he did. Instead, he had been entrusted by God with the task of proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles. And his motivation for doing so was simple. He wanted to be pleasing to God. How other people reacted to that was not his concern.
As much as I might like to pretend otherwise, I do care about what others think of me, and it affects how I relate to them. But God, who knows my heart and my motives, is the one I should seek to please. He is the one I will have to give answer to. And I cannot fool him. I am not a Paul. I was not called to do what he did. But I have been called to be faithful. And it should be my goal to be pleasing to God. In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people thought of me. What matters is hearing my Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.“