Co-dependent. Relationally Addicted. Performance Anxiety. An inability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. These buzzwords and phrases have been around for quite some time. These people agree with everyone, are constantly apologizing, feel responsible for everyone to feel good, are overburdened in their care for others, avoid conflict and can’t admit when they’re feeling hurt.
While we have these modern psychological categories, they are not new. When John wrote his gospel, he saw people who would not believe Jesus because “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (Jn 12:43). And the apostle Paul knew the freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?” (Gal. 1:10). The accusation against Paul was that he was not really preaching good news, but was trying to satisfy his relational neediness with approval and ‘man-pleasing.’
We all think about ourselves too much. We maintain appearances to look just “so”. We gaze a little too long in the mirror (or at our picture in Skype or FaceTime) wondering what people will think about us. We think that other people think about us more than they really do, and this can paralyze us.
Christians have long recognized how the doctrine of justification by faith alone frees us from people-pleasing. Over 300 years ago, Pastor Richard Baxter could write to his church and remind them of simple truths:
- If you seek first to please God and are satisfied, you only have one to please rather than many; and it is easier to please one than many.
- If you aim to please God, you know he does not ask or demand anything of you that is unreasonable; rather, he gives you what is needed to please him.
- If you seek God’s approval, you seek the One who isn’t fickle, misunderstand actions and motives and only wants your best.
- If you please God, he is not changed by emotion, accusations, or misinformation.
When we please God, we are free of so many of the pressures that come from pleasing people. So we make it our aim to please him (2 Cor. 5:9).
How can we please him? First, we admit that we are weak, limited, frail creatures who struggle in many ways (Jas. 3:2). We confess our sins and failures, knowing that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:7, 9). We please him by trusting him (Heb. 11:6) and obeying him, however imperfect our obedience is (Col. 1:10). When you know that you are forgiven, loved, and accepted by God, that your faults are not counted against you, you can please him! Leave the rest to God. Let others think what they will. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you are free! And he who the Son sets free is free indeed (Jn 8:36)!
See you Sunday,
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.