Each individual encounters the challenge of pleasing others in their lives. However, striving to please others is an exhausting treadmill that leads to micromanaging of relationships, conversations, and situations. However, at times people may strive to please people without understanding the adverse impact these actions will have on their lives. Striving to make everyone happy leads to self-pity, discouragement, and relational stress. Christians in particular have a challenge in establishing a balance between pleasing others and pleasing God. Choosing to please God over man is the ideal manner in which Christians should live.
Paul said in Galatians 1:10, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul had come to the realization that it would not be possible for him to please everyone in his ministry. There are many who disagreed with his teachings and his understanding of grace, and this often caused him to be trouble with the authorities of his time. In Acts 27:1, “…they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.” Paul was persecuted and imprisoned many times because people were not pleased with his teachings (Mounce 23). The understanding of the fact that it was not possible to please everyone was part of the resolve that encouraged Paul to continue with his ministry because he chose to please God.
Seeking to do God’s will from the heart is a suitable virtue that each Christian should observe. God is one, and he does not change. Therefore, pleasing God would be something that is possible for any individual to do because God remains the same from generation to generation and does not change. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever.” Understanding that Jesus and the father are one therefore means that God does not change either. Therefore, to please God one would need to understand his will and his word (Mounce 25). On the other hand, pleasing men is a difficult task because their views, perceptions, and experiences change constantly over time. What people want today is not what they value tomorrow. Therefore, it is not possible to please every human being because they constantly change and are swayed by the situations and circumstances in their immediate environment quite frequently.
Eph 6:5,6 says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyes service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” God expects us to serve others in a manner that is pleasing to him. God also affirms and acknowledges the fact that there are those who seek to please other men with eye-service. Seeking to please others with eye-service essentially means that they do what is pleasing to others when they can be seen by those who they are seeking to please (Fee 27). However, God encourages Christians to serve others from the heart in a manner that is pleasing to God even when they are not being looked at.
Nonetheless, understanding how to live with others in the right manner at times requires an accurate understanding of how to please men in a manner that is pleasing to both God and man. 1 Cor 10: 31-11:1). “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Paul had an accurate understanding of how to please others in manner that does not harm one’s personality or individual life. In this context, Paul was addressing the issue of eating meat sacrificed to other gods. Even though these situations are not common in the modern environment, understanding how to live with others is a necessary virtue. He said that a Christian’s endeavor to please others should be one that is based on Spirit-filled love. Pleasing others on the basis of Spirit-filled love is certainly different from trying to please others for self-gratifying or pride-indulging motives that are simply pursued for purposes of seeking the approval of others (Fee 12). Christians should therefore make efforts of understanding the nature of their efforts in pleasing others to avoid selfish and pride-filled motives.
An accurate understanding of how to live peaceably with others is necessary for Christians worldwide. Each Christian often encounters challenges of pleasing others in order to be approved and accepted as a person. However, on many occasions, the will of others is often in conflict with the will of God. Paul encountered this challenge often, causing him to be imprisoned many times. Seeking to please others is a challenge everyone encounters. Pleasing others from a heart that is filled with Spirit-filled love could be a beautiful way for each Christian to live their life.
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Fee, Gordon D. Offer Yourselves to God: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Paul's Epistles. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2019.
Mounce, William D. "Pastoral Epistles (part 2 of 2)." (2019).