Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. (Proverbs 29: 25)
I hope that yesterday’s message on people-pleasing provoked you to ponder. I did a little ruminating on it myself. Today, we think together about the alternative – with a perspective that promotes God-centered, balanced living.
The scripture says to seek God first, and everything else will fall into place. (My paraphrase of Matthew 6: 33.)
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6: 33)
So how does this play out in practical terms? If you love God most and first, do you become a monk and isolate yourself on the side of a mountain somewhere? Does giving up people-pleasing mean that you become contentious and obnoxious? What do you do when obeying God upsets other people – people you want to influence in a positive way? And how do you figure out how to please God, anyway?
Well, first of all, when you are walking by God’s Spirit in an all-out commitment to God, He will place you in situations with people you never imagined. He’ll give you divine assignments, placed squarely and often unexpectedly into your heart and mind. Far from becoming a chanting monk, you will head into some of the greatest adventures with people you could impossibly fathom. Having an audience of One catapults you into purposeful and motivating engagement with all kinds of people.
The difference is, you don’t allow their whims to control you or their opinions to become your measure of self-worth. God’s already established your worth, and He’s given you a unique purpose on this earth. No one can rob you of that without your permission. When the Lord comes first, that also means that what He says about you far outweighs the words of anyone else!
When you step away from people-pleasing into God-pleasing, you certainly don’t become an obnoxious jerk. The core of God is LOVE. When you submit to His Lordship, you surrender to be filled with His Love and to live that Love out every single day. Walking in God’s Love often brings you the favor of man. After all, most people respond positively to being loved. However, that’s not a guarantee. Jesus lived in perfect Love, and as I recall, He caught a little backlash.
Love is not synonymous with always making people happy. Sometimes, Love must be tough. Often, the Love of God inspires going against cultural and even long-standing family norms. Further, often when you’re listening to God and being His hands and feet in your world, the enemy of your soul becomes infuriated. He inspires those under his control to attack you, in spite of your good intentions. Get used to the idea that when you walk with God, people won’t always be happy with you.
But oh, my goodness, it’s so worth it! Imagine this! Christ in you, Loving you and touching others through you. The Holy Spirit filling you up, empowering you to make an impact as only He-in-you can. God, GOD, giving you the deep-down satisfaction of knowing, of knowing. Oh, yes, so worth it!
I challenge you to tell me a better way to live! Prioritizing the audience of One beats out the frantic people-pleasing route, hands down. It arm-wrestles self-pride flat to the table. There’s no greater adventure. It’s a plan – no, He’s a God – that you can absolutely trust!
Lord, I want to influence and serve others so that they will see You in me and develop a hunger for You. But I never want to put others ahead of You. Learning to walk in step with You inside me has been and still is a challenge. Continue to teach me, Holy Spirit, and show me how to Love well.