Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:24
Those who know me well know I used to be a huge people pleaser. I would be amiss if I told you I have completely defeated this bad habit, but I’ve come so far and for this, I am very grateful to God.
As a child, I learned that through people pleasing (being nice), I could avoid rejection which is what I feared the most. As a young woman, I carried this fear into adulthood and people pleasing defined me.
Recently, as I was reading Scripture, I came across a verse that reminded me of the difference between people pleasing and pleasing people. God wants us to avoid the first and do the second. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. We’re supposed to please people?” Yes, indeed.
In Romans 15:2 it says: “Each of us should please his neighbor, for his good and to build him up.”
People pleasing is often rooted in fear, but pleasing people is rooted in love. If you are doing something for someone and it’s not building them up, and it’s not for their good but for your comfort, perhaps instead of pleasing them to help them become more of the person God has created them to be, you’re pacifying or enabling them—or like I used to do, you’re hoping to avoid rejection or their anger.
The goal of the kind of pleasing Paul is talking about is to protect from evil, to demonstrate love, and to serve in a God-honoring way that builds up someone and points them to Christ. This type of pleasing is sacrificial. It’s not about being a pushover. It’s not about fear. It’s about the advancement of holiness in the life of the one we seek to please. And, it’s pleasing that was modeled for us by Jesus.
In Romans 15:3 it says, “For even Christ did not please himself.” Jesus is the perfect example of self-sacrifice. He desired our good rather than his own so much that he was willing to die on the cross to bring us great pleasure, now and in the afterlife.
In the days ahead, ask yourself, “Am I people pleasing out of fear or am I pleasing out of a heart of love?”
“. . . in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3a-4).
Prayer: Lord, help me to please you by pleasing others out of a heart of love. Show me how I can do this today. Amen.
Application: Make a list of how you can serve the most important person in your life today by pleasing them. As you make your list, consider if each item on your list will build them up and help them become more like Jesus.
Related Readings: Romans 14:19; Philippians 2:4-5; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; Philippians 2:8