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People Pleasing—Sin or Service?

April 16th, 2006

How much should a Christian do to help another person? This would appear to be a simple question at first glance. However, Matthew 5:40-42 and Matthew 7:6 appear to strike a balance regarding social interaction in the kingdom of God. On the one hand, “going the extra mile” seems normative. But, then, the Lord turns around and labels some as “dogs,” who are unworthy of our efforts.

“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you”

(Matthew 5:40-42)

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you”

(Matthew 7:6)

Paul made an interesting comment to the Galatians—“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Paul grounds his approval in God, not man. Still, Paul served his God by serving men (2 Cor. 6:3-113). Then, in the next breath, he qualifies: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? …Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them says the Lord…” (see 2 Cor. 6:14-18). The bottom line in serving men is to do it for God. Yet, in this service, one is to be prudent and not to reward or indulge the insolent or lazy indigent (see 2 Thess. 3:6-15).

-Robert M. Housby

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