As promised, here is the 2nd part to/the full blog about pleasing others instead of pleasing God. It did not turn out how I expected it to, but I wrote what I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to write, so here it is! Thank you for your patience! Here it is:
April 12-13, 2017
Seek the Approval of God NOT Other People
10 “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
I know I have previously written on this subject, but it has come to my attention a lot recently that it needs to be addressed again. I myself have always been a people pleaser and this has gotten me nowhere but heartache, pain, and sometimes trouble (especially trouble with God). I am trying to break free of this habit, and have been trying to do so since learning this was a sin and foolish in the eyes of God, which I learned sometime after being saved almost 5 years ago (April 18, 2012 I was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit). Since I am trying hard to break free from this awful habit, I must also cut ties with people who are habitual and unapologetically people pleasers – especially ones who claim to be walking with the Lord, Jesus.
But how can a person say they are walking with the LORD, that they trust only Jesus and love Him with all their being but then in the next breath (or in some cases, in their next written or typed sentence) say that they want to make everyone happy and please everyone and nothing is more important to helping others than to try to make sure they are all happy? Sounds like people-pleasing to me. However, the Bible specifically states that we are not to please people, but God in several places in both OT and NT.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”
John 12:43 says, “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
There are also examples of men putting pleasing people before pleasing God into action in the Bible. For instance, when Jesus was handed over to His enemies by Judas and He stood before Pilate and the high priests had gotten the crowd all fired up against Jesus, Pilate asked who to release, the prisoner named Barabbas or Jesus and the crowd shouted: “crucify Him!” So to please the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas (a murderer), and ordered for Jesus to be flogged (whipped) and crucified (Mark 15:9-15). Pilate knew Jesus was innocent of the crimes He was arrested for and that he’d been sent to prison because the high priests were envious of Him (v. 10), but to please (or pacify, as it is written in my NLT version), he released a vicious murderer and had an innocent man (who they found out too late truly was the Son of God) beaten and crucified.
Being in the business of people-pleasing is still similar today. Whenever we make a decision to try to please everyone (or even 1 particular person or group of people), we are telling Jesus that we do not fully believe in Him and/or that we do not love Him as much as (or at all, depending on who the people-pleasing person is) we love the people we are trying to please. Jesus warns us against this in Matthew 10:37-39 that if anyone loves their mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, or anyone else more than they love Him, that they are not worthy of being His follower. He is not telling us to hate our family, friends, or other loved ones – He is telling us to love them less, because their lives are finite and will end (and those who do not believe in Jesus will be separated from all who believed, loved, and obeyed Jesus while they were here on earth, whether for an hour or most of their lives or anywhere in-between), but Jesus is infinite (He has existed since the beginning of time and will always be in existence) and holds the keys to eternity with Him and the Father in Heaven. When we love, follow, and obey Jesus in faith, we learn how to live the right way and we get prepared to how life will be like in Heaven when there will be no more evil, no more sadness or crying, no more suffering or pain or loss or betrayals: all bad stuff will be done away with and the things that remain will be love, peace, faith, hope, joy, and those who were faithfully obedient to the Lord Jesus, the Son of God and our Lord and Savior.
On the other hand, living for worldly pleasures and to please people will lead to a life of self-destruction and also your actions and words will have a negative impact on others in the world and it is insecurity and self-centeredness that led to the first sin ever committed in this world from Eve after the serpent deceived her. She was deceived because she was naïve and she was insecure after the serpent (Satan in disguise) told her she could have the same knowledge God had and be like Him and be equal to Him, and she wanted it so badly that she went against God’s command not to eat from the 1 fruit tree that was forbidden and we all know what happened after that! —> Sin entered the world along with death, destruction, pain, suffering, separation, sickness, greed, poverty, and all the other problems we face in today’s world.
Why am I bringing this subject up again, one might ask? I have been guilty of being a people pleaser my whole life, and for the past few years, I have been working hard to break the cycle. I still hate confrontation because I don’t like hurting other people’s feelings (or the possibility of it) and I do not want to upset anyone or rock the boat of our friendship or current relationship status (including blood family, and spiritual family at church). And honestly, their reactions/possible bad reactions cause me anxiety because sometimes people (including me, another bad habit I am working to get rid of) explode in anger or get super offended and hurt and cry or yell or both, and some throw things as they yell, and relationships end sometimes when the other person is unwilling to accept what they are hearing and distance themselves as far from the truth they do not want to hear as possible. But I know, because it says so in Scripture, that it is wrong to aim to please people above pleasing God, and fearing man is dangerous, but trusting God leads to safety (as we can read in Proverbs 29:25. And the flip-side to that is this: “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge (or wisdom, depending on translation).” Proverbs 1:7a
The second part of that Proverb (Proverb 1:7b) is that “but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Why do we act so foolish? Is it lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding? Is it selfishness? I believe it depends on the person, because some people are not selfish, they just lack the proper wisdom or understanding to know what is right in a situation that is not as simple as black and white (right or wrong). “Thou shalt not murder” is an obviously wrong/bad thing to do. However, doing something good for someone else may not necessarily be easy to see as doing something wrong if the person cannot see that their motive is to please the person instead of honoring God. Sometimes, people do the right things for the wrong reasons and then it is considered a sin against God because God examines the heart, He examines the reasons for our words and actions. If our motives are pure and bring glory to God (and that is our intent), then God is pleased. However, if we do something to please another person, then God is not pleased. And to do something we know in our hearts goes against God, but we do it anyway because we are afraid what the person we are doing the thing for will do to us if we do not do or say what they told us to, then we are guilty of acting against God in more than 1 way: first, because we feared man more than God and second, because we did something that went against God (i.e. lying to others because they demand it and cannot handle the truth).
There is a third option if you are unsure whether or not to do something, to do the right thing for the right reasons, and if you rightly fear God if you’re being asked to do something wrong and sinful but you know it is wrong and do not want to do it: pray. We are told to pray on every occasion, continually and persistently, in Ephesians 6:18. There are many other places in the Bible where we are told to pray in NT, and in OT, we have many examples of those who did the praying, such as Daniel (Book of Daniel), and King David (1 and 2 Samuel). God has the right solutions to every problem we will ever encounter in life. The question is, will we be willing to pray to Him to reveal what it is when the right thing to do is unclear to us? Will you continue being a people pleaser, or will you give up your life to follow the Lord (Jesus Christ) and do things His way, which is the right way? This question is for both believers as well as non-believers. For non-believers: it is not too late to turn your life around, be saved (take the necessary steps to be saved including proper form of baptism), and to daily follow Jesus and live life the way He taught us to both in words and example by the way He lived His own life here on earth as a human.
I recently had to end a very short-lived friendship with someone I met in a support group for anxiety and depression because he claimed to be a man of God who loved Jesus above everyone else and trusted only Jesus. Yet when he created his own support group with “hope” in the title (for those of us who suffer from depression, so we would know there is still hope that it will not last forever and that things can and will get better), at one point he forgot that Jesus was a major factor in the helping and supporting others (since it is important and also brings healing to those who believe when they hear it that Jesus loves them unconditionally, and has the power to heal them) and banned any mention of God or Jesus from the group and was not afraid of other believers leaving the group (and there were others besides me who also left due to this). He said that the reason he created the group was to help others, and there were those who were against hearing about God and Jesus and complained to him about it. Another admin after she left the group had said that there were only a few who did this objecting but most of the members joining were for hearing the Truth, were for hearing about God and Jesus. So one person who began with good intentions, let a few people dictate what was allowed and what was not allowed in his support group. He let their anti-Christ mind-sets wreak havoc with his own sense of right from wrong and he forgot that Jesus is a key to healing. Some people believe in doctors and the medicine they prescribe to heal them of whatever sickness or ailments or pain they experience. Some rely on natural remedies (which both of these things are OK initially, but not when that is the sole thing they rely on: medicine – whether RX or over the counter (self-medicating), or natural remedies). Jesus may, and sometimes does lead us to a specific doctor who will prescribe specific meds or let you know of natural alternatives (depending on the doctor) to help heal us or make us better. However, the first step should be believing that Jesus has the power to heal us, step 2 is to pray to Him about how to get the healing we need from Him, and step 3 is obeying Him whatever He tells us to do. Also, truly believing and accepting that Jesus loves us unconditionally can be healing as well, knowing that no matter how well or poorly we act (as long as we continue to confess our sins to Him like in 1 John 1:9), He will forgive us because when He died for us on the cross, it was to save us from all of the sins we have and would ever commit and not just the sins we had committed prior to being made right with God through a soul-saving relationship with Him (Jesus).
Standing on this truth in your heart, in your mind, and letting it enter every fiber of your being, will help you to be at peace in the midst of storms and feel joy when things are bad in your life, and you will no longer be crushed by the overwhelming weight of anxiety, depression, bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, rage, discouragement, fear, doubt, unbelief, and/or whatever else currently weighs you down. I know that these things currently weigh me down (though I thank God that bitterness has not taken root in all areas of my life and just in a couple of relationships, which I am working to uproot the bitterness so it does not spread to every other relationship and to every area of my life) and I feel like I am drowning and that Jesus (my “lifeguard that walks on water”) is too far away to reach me and save me most days. Part of my personal problem is that I am having a hard time internalizing personally what I know and understand on an intellectual level about God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for me on the cross. I believe that many others suffer from this problem too. It is one thing to know a fact about something or someone, but it is completely different to reconcile the truth of it personally in your own life, especially when it comes to something as truly wonderful as God’s unconditional unfailing and everlasting love, mercy, and grace for us, which makes Him slow to anger and eager to forgive and blot out the stain of our sins and not remember them anymore. I believe if we could all (everyone alive today not already doing this successfully) learn to personally feel and believe and accept in our hearts how much God truly loves us, and feel the full extent of His forgiveness that was given through the shedding of Christ’s blood so we would not have do die for our sins because Jesus did for us all, each and every one of us, then it would be a whole lot easier to live life to please God and to do what is right, even if it means that not every person will be pleased. In fact, when we do what pleases God, there will always be people who don’t like it and who will complain or leave your life. I learned this the hard way several times since coming into a right relationship with the Lord nearly 5 years ago – on April 18, 2012.
What we need to learn is that not everyone wants to believe or accept the truth, so as much as we want it to be, those who live like this will not be saved. We need to let loving and honoring Jesus be more important than pleasing people. We need to learn to be full-time God-pleasers and to accept that there will be people, even among those we love, that will not be pleased by our words, actions, attitudes, behavior, or devotion to Christ. It is hard to let go of people we love and of seeing God’s promises for our lives come to pass on our timeline and in the way we want it to, but it is something we need to learn to do and to do well if we are to live joyful and peaceful lives. We need to trust God’s timing, and that the rare times God says no (instead of “not yet”), that the thing we want is bad for us, and/or that He has something better in mind for us because God sees the whole picture and we see only a partial picture.
And consider this: Sometimes when we aim to please people by saying or doing what they want and not saying and not doing things that offend, upset, or annoy them, we are doing them a disservice. We are enabling them to continue living in spiritual darkness, and to live selfishly to please themselves, which will lead to eternity in Hell for them. Part of our jobs as Christians is to make sure everyone in our lives and everyone we come across (when given the opportunity to do so) know/be told the truth about God and Jesus, and learn about the Good News of salvation and how to attain it. Then it is up to the person receiving the information whether to accept it or reject it. We can try to water the seed planted with words of love and encouragement and by the way we live our own lives, but we cannot force anyone to believe or accept something they either are not yet ready to accept, or will never believe or accept as the truth because of the veil Satan placed on their minds. But we may never know if the person initially rejecting Jesus or the truth will ever turn their lives around and give their hearts to Jesus if we do not try to share the truth/Jesus’ love with them, and if we do not try to find out why they are so against anything having to do with Jesus or God. It is possible they were hurt by a “Christian” or that there was a tragedy in their lives or traumatic event, and they cannot understand how a “supposedly loving God could ‘let’ such bad things happen to them or to innocent people in the world. I still do not understand such things myself, but there comes a time when a person needs to learn to “trust in the LORD and do not depend on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), and to believe His promise in Romans 8:28 “to work everything together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Instead of working so hard at pleasing others and trying to pacify them or keep them happy, what if we decided to live out the truth Jesus taught us in the Gospels and live pure lives that please and honor God, and perhaps someday we will see the miracle (especially if we continually pray for the unbelievers and non-believers among us: friends, family, and others God puts in our paths) of at least 1 (possibly more than 1) of those people having a change of heart and giving their hearts to God and their lives to Jesus to be saved! How incredible would that be? When we please God, it can bring about miracles. He can make our enemies be at peace with us. Pleasing God can bring non-believers to (and unbelievers back to) the Lord to be saved. It can bring healing to our bodies, hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. Nothing is too hard, or impossible for God. However, when a person dies, so does any help you were receiving from them and any hope of whatever you were hoping for or expecting from them. That is why we are to put our hope and trust in God and not in people, money, or circumstances.
Yes, it can be painful either when someone we care deeply for leaves our lives and treats us like lepers because we love and follow Jesus and they want nothing to do with the truth or Jesus because then they’d have to admit they are wrong and change their ways. Yes it is painful when we have to say goodbye to someone we care about because they are toxic to us and if they stayed in our lives, they could lead us astray and we would forfeit our salvation. However, wouldn’t it be even worse to lose our salvation because we thought keeping everyone we love in our lives (even non-believers/anyone against Christ/Truth/God) was more important than the salvation of our own souls, and we did everything the other person/other people wanted in order to get them to stay in our lives? What is more important, pleasing people or the salvation of our souls? If the answer is the salvation of our souls (and pleasing God and following Jesus) then no matter how painful it is for us, we need to do what is best according to God, because He truly knows what is best and what is right for us, and knows better than any other person would what is right for us. It will not be easy, and Jesus warns all of us to count the cost before following Him, but it is more rewarding to be able to learn to live your life filled with peace and joy, even in the midst of horrific storms (trials and tribulations) in our lives now and the promise of eternity in Heaven forever after Jesus 2nd Coming. Am I saying to never please other people? No! In fact, Jesus came to serve us and has commanded us to do the same (to serve others). The key is to remember we are doing it for God and not solely for the other person to win their approval or like or love. When we work to serve others, we are to examine our motives for doing so and make sure that our reasons are pure and to honor God and help the person (regardless of whether or not they can ever return the favor or do something in return), and not to please people or expecting something in return. The right people will be pleased when we obey God and do things that please Him. And we are not to worry about those who do not like or accept what we do in obedience to the LORD, or in the way we conduct ourselves and live our lives.
What will you decide to do? Will you work to please God (first) and do what is right and for the right (pure) reasons, or will you continue to be a people pleaser who either does wrong, or does the right things for the wrong reasons or does the wrong things for the right reasons? When our goal is to please God first and foremost, He will reveal to us the right way to do things and give us the right words to say to others. The decision whether to please others, please yourself, or to please God is entirely up to you. I hope you will at least pray about it and ask the Lord to help you make the right decision and to stand by it and do the right things always, no matter how difficult. Thank you for taking time to read this. I believe in doing so, that you truly do want to please God and that there is hope for you! I hope there is still hope for me, but I believe there is definitely hope for you, as long as you have breath in you to make the necessary changes in your life, with the help of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. May God’s love and peace be with you!