1997-03-05 - Who are We Trying to Please?

Who are we trying to please? We all have factors that motivate us -- desires to please others, fears of angering other people, worries about disappointing or hurting other people. And of course, in a balanced life, pleasing others can be a good thing. And we are to be kind and not hurt people if it is not necessary. However, these should not be our primary motivations. Our goal must be to please God, to follow His will. We should emulate Paul:

1 Th 2:4 (NRSV) but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.

For example, when I write a devotional each week, I need to say what I believe God wants me to say, and not necessarily what you readers want to hear. I need to seek first and foremost, to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit. But please don't let this stop you if you feel compelled to write me, saying how very insightful this devotional is <VBG>*.

Trying to appease people instead of concentrating on obeying God, can lead us into all sorts of trouble. Burnout can result from trying to make others happy all the time. We lose the ability to say "no," for fear of alienating family, friends or colleagues. And yet, God's will for us can be that we do say "no" at times. And to our astonishment, sometimes, saying "no" to someone is the best for them! : ) And remember, God wants us to take care of ourselves, and avoid burnout; after all, these bodies of ours are temples of the Holy Spirit!

We can end up very disappointed, because no matter how hard we try, we can't please everyone. Even when we do our best, not everyone will be happy with us. Sometimes we have the wrong idea that, if we are following God's will, everyone, or most everyone, will agree with our decisions. That is bad theology. Remember, Jesus certainly did not please everyone!

Luke 19:47 (NRSV) Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill Him.

Some of us are trying to please someone important to us -- working our hearts out to make someone proud of us, perhaps someone who is critical and hard-to-please. But the sad truth about that is, it's probably not going to happen, because that issue is most likely about that other person, not us.

Also, if we base our motivation on pleasing other people, we can end up angry at them when they don't return the favor, or angry at ourselves for our incessant striving to satisfy others.

But all of these troubles can be prevented, if we make pleasing God, our impelling force. Although our reason for doing this should be simply because He IS God, there is a bonus: We have peace, joy, and the contentment from knowing that what we are doing is what we are ordained to do.

Gal 5:22 (NRSV) By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness.

Phil 4:9 (NRSV) Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Dear Father, please help us to make pleasing You our driving force.Free us from the captivity of constantly trying to placate others. Help us to love them with Your love. In Jesus' name amen.


* <VBG> - Very Big Grin