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"Helping" Others

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
– The Epistle to The Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

Today I had to speak with an engaged couple who was living together and wanted me to officiate their service. I wasn’t just a “rent-a-preacher” either. These were two people who had begun their journey at my church and felt like they were at a place where God was making some inroads to their life. They believed I was a major part of it. I was humbled and yet I was burdened – burdened by the conviction that cohabitation, as popular as it is today (roughly 50% of all couples live together before getting married), is not only an unwise move for any person but clearly sinful for followers of Jesus (e.g, I Corinthians 7:2-4).

So I tried to explain to them as clearly and compassionately as I could why I would not perform their wedding ceremony. Needless to say, they weren’t happy. But in their crestfallen state they still managed to be very gracious (something that not always is the case) with the impasse at which we’d arrived. As tough-minded (some read: arrogant) as I think I can be, it wasn’t much fun of a discussion.

But it did give me a gut-check question: Who do I serve? Pastors only serve their people as they serve Christ. Period. That’s it. No debate. (That’s my either tough-mindedness or arrogance chiming in, I can’t tell) Yet I think sometimes we pastor-types can answer “people” without any modifiers, without any exceptions. The thin-ice danger of that is it places the person’s emotions, convictions and values over God’s prerogatives. Thus when a conflict arises between them guess who loses out? God. All in the name of helping others.

But in “helping” them, all we’ve done is move them further from God’s purpose and plan for their lives. Like spiritual Jack Kevorkians we give people what they want in the name of what’s best but in the end it brings death…which is the end of all who believe their choices are supreme and God can just go his own way.

This is not our path. This should not be our practice. You can serve men or you can serve men by serving God. Don’t be confused. Don’t blur the lines. The difference will mark you a either a slave of man (and really yourself) or a slave of Christ.

O God, grant me the grace to be the latter. Amen.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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