“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
– Galatians 1:10
Ever have those moments where you read something you’ve read countless times, but for some reason it really sticks out to you this time around? I experience those moments all the time. I guess that’s one thing I really love about scripture – you can read it over and over again, and still receive fresh revelation and insight from it. When I was reading from Galatians this morning, I had one of those moments, and I had to stop and really ask myself – who am I trying to please? Am I a people pleaser?
It’s something I’ve gotten better at over the years, but there are still days when I need to step back and ask myself – who am I aiming to please here? Who is going to benefit from my choices and decisions in this situation? Am I trying to please God through my actions, or am I still looking for the approval of people?
Yes, I definitely have those days. It’s easy and natural to look for the approval of our peers. We all want to be well-liked, respected, and most importantly, we want our voices to be heard. We want others to accept the things we say; we want to leave an impression on those we come in contact with. Our thoughts become so consumed with pleasing those around us, that we forget what is most important – pleasing God. And often, it’s impossible to simultaneously please both people and God. Both require different motives on our part, and both ask for something significantly different.
If we are aiming to please people, we will most likely be motivated by our own selfish desires to succeed and get ahead in the world. When we are working towards pleasing people, it’s not out of the goodness of our hearts, or even a desire to help them. That would be a different motive entirely. No, when we are looking to please people, we do so in order to benefit ourselves in some way. If we are in the good favor of others, regardless of whether or not we agree with what they are doing, we feel socially safe. Our security is found in the idea that people like us, and that we mean something to them. But, what we often don’t realize is that sense of security we experience from pleasing people is short-lived, fragile and false.
But, when we are aiming to please God, we aren’t doing so out of our own selfish desires. If our motives are self-serving, then we aren’t really aiming to please God in the first place. When we truly seek to please God, we do so out of love and a desire to serve Him. We do so because we want to see his will played out in our lives. We do so because his plans are better than ours. We don’t do it to gain popularity from our peers. In fact, pleasing God often makes us less popular to the world. But which is better – to be popular amongst our peers, or to be popular with God?
And, while the security we experience from people may be fragile, we can expect a different outcome when we put our trust in the Lord. When we aim to please God, to win His approval over our peers, we are able to find and place our security in Him. And when our security is in Him, we can really, truly start to live out the plans he has for our lives. When we cease to care what the world thinks of us, we can begin focusing on our destiny in Christ. We can begin to live free.
So, who are you aiming to please? Whose opinion do you most highly value?