In the first ten verses of Galatians, Paul is clearly agitated. He skips his typical greeting and gets right to the heart of the matter: the false teachers. He is astonished that people are turning away from the gospel they learned. They are deserting the the truth. After stating in no uncertain terms that there is only one gospel, Paul assures them that he is not giving this message to please anyone but God, (v. 10)
Apparently some people thought Paul played both sides of the circumcision issue. They thought that because Timothy had to be circumcised by Titus did not that he was a people pleaser. He assures his readers that if he was living to please himself, he wouldn't be serving Christ.
In his commentary, Phillip Ryken addresses this passage, and the issue of serving Christ and serving ourselves. The reader is asked to evaluate himself when it comes to our service. Whom are we serving?
Whose pleasure do I seek? If we try to please ourselves, or other people, then we are living by a different gospel. Pleasing God and pleasing others are mutually exclusive. We cannot follow our own ambitions and follow Jesus Christ at the same time. For us, the "good news" is a bigger paycheck, a better job, a new romance, or some other personal accomplishment. But once we understand the one true gospel, then we stop living for ourselves, or for others and start living for God.
Ouch. I'm pretty sure there are some who would disagree with how firm Ryken is on the matter.
I suppose I could say, "God gave me this ambition." But I must ask myself honestly is that's true. Sometimes, asking others if they think we are pursuing our own ambitions over God's is a better approach. We are not always so objective about ourselves.
I was convicted by Ryken's words.