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Trying to Make a Good Impression?

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Should Christians be concerned with making good impressions on others?  You can find a number of Scripture verses that seem to suggest that we should not be trying to impress people.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  (Gal. 1:10)

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.  Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:12-14)

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  (1 Thess. 2:4)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.   (Col. 3:23-24)

At first glance, the above verses do seem to suggest that we should not seek to impress people, that their opinions of us and what we do shouldn’t matter.  God is the One to whom we stand accountable.  God is the One whom we should seek to please.

But, what do we do with verses like the following which seem to suggest that we should be concerned about what other people think?

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Cor. 9:19)

“so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10)

As always, we must look at the full counsel of God.  We must reconcile Scripture with Scripture.  Here are verses that help us do that:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.  (1 Cor. 10:31-33)

Two issues must be in place when seeking to impress others, always in this order:

1)  God’s glory

Are we seeking to make a good impression on others to make ourselves look good or to lift God up before others?

2)  People’s good

Are we seeking to make a good impression on others to help them or to help ourselves?  Is it for our personal gain or their good?  Do we do what we do to make ourselves feel good or for others to feel good?

For a practical example of trying to impress for people’s good, click this link:  Good First Impressions in the Bible class

Our motivations in this issue seem to be what make the difference.

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  (Rom. 15:2)

When we care about the glory of God, we will also care about the good of people.  Remember the greatest commandments?  The first is to love God.  The second is to love people.  Love for God spills over into love for people and would make us want to seek their good for the glory of God.

Think of it this way:  Seeking to impress others should always be to  . . .

  • reflect God and His glory to others, not to personally earn their applause for ourselves
  • give people what they need to come to know God better, not to personally gain something for ourselves

Anything short of the above is people-pleasing for the wrong reasons and manipulative.  It must always be with the purpose of helping others, not ourselves.  Otherwise, it will not be to the glory of God.

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