Christians should be careful about being people pleasers

Christians should be careful about being people pleasers. Really? Aren’t we supposed to be loving? Do things like meet people where they are? Accept everyone for who they are? Get along with everyone? All that good stuff? Well, let me answer that with a question. Was Jesus a people pleaser?

Uh, no, Jesus was not out to please people. Here’s one example.

Seven Woes
Christians should be careful about being people pleasers

23:1-7 pp — Mk 12:38, 39; Lk 20:45, 46
23:37-39 pp — Lk 13:34, 35

Mt 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Mt 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’

Mt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

[Mt 23:14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”]  Is not included in the NIV, but is in some other translations.  It would, of course, make eight woes.  [1]New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 23:14). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Mt 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

Mt 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Mt 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Mt 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Mt 23:29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”

Clearly, none of that was to please people. Certainly not the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. That’s obvious. But Jesus also wasn’t put to please even the average person in Jerusalem. Check out that last paragraph again:

Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”

No, that’s not something everyone wanted to hear.

But then, if we look closely, it’s all still spoken in love. In the middle of that last segment, Jesus said, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Jesus’ goal isn’t to make people happy in the world they live in. No, Jesus’ goal is for us to want to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. And that means we must change our priorities. The way we act. The attitudes we have. Changes that bring ourselves in line with God, and not with the way this world is.

If Jesus isn’t a people pleaser, then who is He out to please?

Don’t get me wrong here. Ultimately, for those who really try to follow Jesus, we will be pleased. However, as I implied earlier, Jesus isn’t out to be a people pleaser in the normal sense of the phrase. He is out to please someone though. But who?

The Baptism of Jesus – Matthew

3:13-17 pp — Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21, 22; Jn 1:31-34

Mt 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Mt 3:15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

Mt 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

OK – God, the Father, said of Jesus: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise to any Christian.

We aren’t here to please any person. Our goal, as Christians, is to please God. To Follow Jesus, and then to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

When we do that, then others who see us, know us, who want to be part of who we are and have what we have. In other words, want Jesus as well.

People pleasers are liked, but Christians aren’t always liked.

This one was rather timely for me. Sometimes I wonder, how many people read the stuff I write? I mean, really read it and get anything from it. For years, I never enabled the “like” buttons. But sometimes, I do. I don’t get a lot of comments – good or bad. Even though lots of people start to read things, it’s impossible to know how many finish. Or how many got the point.

So I wonder if more people would be likely to just click a button. Apparently not.

But then, I think about something like the following:

In this age of Social Media, it’s so easy to get caught up in gaining others’ “likes” and “shares,” and dwell too much on being accepted rather than speaking God’s truth.

If our goals are to be popular and well-liked, maybe we need to consider the following promise:

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. This is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

That one verse says a lot. If my goal is to see how many people “like” what I write, that’s not necessarily a good thing. I know, some people just click the like button, without even reading it. Others will click it, even if they don’t get the message I was trying to portray. They might be liking something completely opposite of what I thought I was writing.

As I said earlier, I’d wonder how many people got the point I’m trying to make. How effective is what I’m doing? But then I remember, that’s not the goal. After all, it’s not between me and you, the reader. It’s between you and God. By the time you read this, I might have removed the like button again.

Christians might be hated, let alone not be people pleasers

Let’s look at the passage that earlier verse is taken from.

The World Hates the Disciples

Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

Jn 15:26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Jn 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”

The point, given the full context, might be missed, or not fully understood from just the one verse. In case you didn’t catch it, here’s why.

That is why the world hates you – clearly points to the reality that people hate Christians for a reason. But without the full passage, do we really know why?

20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well.

And let’s not forget the first verse:

Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

People hate Christians because they hate God.

However, there’s an unstated assumption in all that. Do you know what it is?

The passage above only applies if we are really acting like Jesus taught us to act. If we’re doing something else, then we’re not acting like true followers of Jesus. And if people hate us for things we do that are against what Jesus taught, then that’s on us.

I wonder, do we realize that if people seem to hate us for a reason that doesn’t fit the explanation Jesus gives us, then the hatred isn’t really because were Christians?

But going one step further, it’s also possible that by being people pleasers, people will like us, but we’re still not acting in a true Christian manner.

Christians should be careful about being people pleasers

This get’s to the heart of the matter.

No matter what we do, in this world, some people will hate us and others will like us.

The keys are, always, what’s in our hearts when we do something and who are we out to please with the things we do?

Consider the passage below.

Treasures in Heaven

6:22, 23 pp — Lk 11:34-36

Mt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

And there it is: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If we’re out to please God, which should be in the heart of every Christian, then some people will like us and some will hate us. But in reality, some will like us because they love Jesus – and others will hate us because they hate Jesus.

If we’re out to please people, without consideration for God, then people will either like us or hate us. It won’t be God that they love or hate. It will just be us.

So I recognize, some people will like what I write. Some will hate it. Everyone else won’t care one way or another. But it’s not about me.

It’s about you, the reader, and God. I’m just trying to be a messenger To get you to think. Not for me or about me. But for and about you and God.


This series is based on 10 Warnings in the Bible We Don’t Take Seriously Enough from crosswalk.com. It expands on their thought for each of the attitudes/activities presented there. The original series gives us things to think about as Christians. then we can dig deeper.

My goals are two-fold. First, to get get started on digging deeper. But second, and equally important, to show non-Christians how we should act/behave and why. Then you’ll know if some behavior you don’t like is truly Christian, or if it’s something that goes against the way we should try to act. Plus, if the things you don’t like are things Jesus taught, maybe it’ll help you understand why Jesus asks us to be like that.

Regardless, we should always act in a loving manner. However, the definition of love is one that comes from God, not from people. I pray this helps.


Image by Christian Dorn from Pixabay


References

References
1 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 23:14). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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