Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pleasing God, not People

Pleasing others by compromising our values is wrong.  But as followers of Jesus, we are called by him to serve others ahead of ourselves in the name of God.

"People pleasing" is rightly condemned as a "trap" that can lead us to do things solely to make others like us. Sometimes, we are tempted to compromise our values and ethics to please others: a boss, co-worker, neighbor, or friend, just to win favor with them.

But it's easy to mistakenly glean from those teaching and preaching against this danger that we start believing that ALL things that please others is wrong, and that we must always please the Self first.

Jesus calls us to please God, and put others first in God's name. Jesus teaches us that we should humbly perform Good Works and Holy Service.

Inherent in Jesus' parables is the duty - not just casual, optional advice, but the duty - to go above and beyond in our service of others.

"I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (Matt. 25:36.)

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (Matt. 5:41.)

As Jesus' brother James puts it, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:26.)

Jesus has called us to a religion of works and action, of radical love and service. There are numerous ways we can put this to work in our lives:

- Giving up lunch in a fancy restaurant to take a co-worker to lunch for the week.

- Sacrificing the family vacation and giving the money instead to house a a family after a fire.

- Literally obeying Jesus and giving your coat, and more, to someone in need.

- Spending time with a sick or hurting loved one, friend, or stranger.

Giving of your time to serve another in need is Christlike and holy. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves in the Godly service of others.

Putting one's own needs on hold when it feels difficult is a short-term sacrifice, not an exercise in "people pleasing," because Jesus challenges us to love others and serve others sacrificially, and demonstrated that love and service by his life and death.

Jesus calls us to do just as he has done, because it pleases God, our Father and Creator.

By Jesus' example, we learn to be humble servants of God, and by his example, we are saved from the sin of self-absorption.

Does it hurt sometimes to put yourself in Second Place, or in Last Place, behind others? Yes. But Jesus teaches that the last are first in the Kingdom of God, and that the World's treasures, and measures, are not God's.

While we should never give out of fear (that we won't be liked) let us never fear to give of ourselves in Godly service.

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