All people yearn to belong and to be known. In the quest for relationship and acceptance, people often seek to please, but who we are pleasing has eternal consequences. Let's look at some different kinds of "pleasers."
The People-Pleaser: Some people spend their whole lives trying to please other people. Consider the adult child of a very successful businessman who feels obligated to take over the family business. He may not have the temperament or the natural skills to follow in his father's footsteps, but he trudges on in an unfulfilled life out of a sense of duty and obligation.
Likewise, many Christians continually look at what others are doing to make sure that they personally measure up to others' expectations. When the apostle Paul was accused of people-pleasing, he made it clear how incompatible this life was for the Christian. He wrote, "If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).
The Self-Pleaser: We have all watched highly successful businessmen or star athletes ruin their health and families in the process of trying to achieve personal goals. They become obsessed with fulfilling their own expectations or meeting their own needs.
Similarly, many Christians fall prey to serving the god of self. Paul warned in Romans 2:8: "But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Jesus calls us to a better way: "So do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:31-33).
It is easy to fall into the performance trap whether we are performing for others or ourselves. When we do this, we actually live a life of bondage. Instead of true liberty in Christ, we live like slaves.
Contrast a life lived in the performance trap to the life of another group of people—God-pleasers. They continually ask themselves, What does the Lord want me to do? What is the will of God? Is what I'm doing today glorifying Him or bringing glory to me? God-pleasers live their lives in total dependence on Him. They surrender themselves to Christ daily.
Are you caught in the performance trap or are you living a life of liberty in Christ?
Prayer: Father, help me to remember that I should be seeking to please You today, not others and not myself. Help me to be a God-pleaser. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24).
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