The disguised, deceptive sin of people-pleasing
Ah, people-pleasing. The indiscriminate evil that chokes out believer and non-believer alike. The almost silent and often disguised wickedness that many may not realize they bare. It’s cunning, this one… this sin, I mean.
It brings to mind the words of our Lord during His description of the sin of Judah in Jeremiah “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)
Though, as a people of God, we have been redeemed (Rom. 3:23-25), given the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), and hearts that do not resemble stone (Ezek. 36:26), we still struggle with our wickedness… and frequently, fool ourselves into thinking that we’re trying to love others when honestly, we’re merely attempting to please them in a way that doesn’t honor God because in our vain attempts at “holiness,” we have placed others above God in our decision making.
What can be disguised as “putting others above ourselves” is us sacrificing true love for the sake of their feelings…and this is evil. Here me, I speak boldly and provocatively of purpose so that you will truly understand what’s at stake here. Far be it from me to warn you about people-pleasing and, in my attempts, actually be trying to please you!
I will not. Jesus has called us to lay down our lives to follow Him, and if we are still aiming to please others above Him, then we are far from following Christ…in these specific moments, I mean. I understand that true, genuine followers of Jesus can deal with this.
I will not act like you have had to lay this down, never to pick it up again, to genuinely be saved. Believers struggle. Thankfully, our hope isn’t in us… it’s in Him.
Continuing the theme of disguises and deception; however, in speaking of people-pleasing, the devil would love for us to stop there and not ask why we do it. You see, there is an underlying god here that many are trying to serve… and it’s ourselves.
Why do you need to please them? Do they frighten you? Do you fear a mere man? Are you trying to preserve your peace above God’s glory? Brothers and sisters in Christ, this ought not to be.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). Friends, our God is so much bigger than they, and His glory should stand instead of our own.
Or, do you need their praise? Does their disapproval wound your soul? Have you been deceived into thinking that their approval matters when your identity is in Christ? My dear family, it does not. And this is not some self-pride, people shaming motivation either.
It is merely a fact that our identity is in Christ. We are saved, forgiven, redeemed, clean, righteous, holy, saints… children of God whose standing will never change based on anyone’s opinion, and it won’t vary based on our swaying attempts to please ourselves either.
I know that this sin has caused harm to your life, but please do not play the victim because that will not help you. It would be best if you lay this down. Otherwise, you will continue to feel burnt out, frustrated, angry, and disappointed. You are your stumbling block in this fight, and as long as you continue to believe the lies of the enemy that say “you have no choice in the matter,” it will not get better.
But I’m here to tell you that it can. God provides a way of escape from every temptation to sin, including the sin of making yourself an idol. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13 ESV).
So, pray. Trust in what God has already given you to win this fight (2 Pet. 1:3-5) and walk boldly. Don’t fear man, and don’t place yourself above God in your life.
Lastly, even though I just mentioned it subtly, do not attempt to win this fight on your own. Jesus said that those who love Him are the ones that obey Him (John 14:15). Without love for Jesus that surpasses a love for ourselves, we will lose this war of pleasing ourselves and others.
So, seek Him. Stay close to Him. Pray that He would work a continuing mighty work in you that causes your heart to be so in love with Him that it expresses itself in action with everything you do. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And be thankful… thankful that we serve a God who cares enough about us and His glory, to have us share in His work and presence.
Grace and Peace, Church