Thursday, June 5, 2008

out to please

"Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD."

Proverbs 29:26

Like many of us, I was born a people-pleaser. I hate conflict of any kind--even a friendly debate, held in a spirit of camaraderie and used to good ends, will leave me feeling unsettled and sometimes unhappy. Sometimes I will shy away from certain courses of action or even thoughts because I know that someone else would not like it.

There are good elements to this. I want to respect others, truly. I want to honour my parents and other authorities in my life. I want to be biblically submissive, humble and meek. But there's also a lot of bad to it. Often, following God means taking paths others wouldn't take or even understand. It means doing things that will disappoint people or sometimes upset them.

Following Jesus can mean setting yourself up for a cross.

The last few years have held a lot of trials for me--growing pains, stretching, some really hard stuff. I've come to realize that the most common experience of sainthood is that of being misunderstood--and not being able to do a thing about it. And I'm learning, though it's a painful lesson, to embrace that reality. No one was ever misunderstood like Jesus. And no one ever pleased God or did more for people than He did.

Solomon reminds us that seeking the favour of those who are somehow over us may cause us to lose perspective. In the end, it does not matter what anyone thought of your actions. It doesn't matter if people completely misconstrued everything you ever did or said. What matters is that you seek to please God. It matters that you keep your heart pure before Him. It matters that you respect people, honour people, and serve people--and that you do it, not out of fear or the desire to please them, but out of love for God.

It's not an easy lesson, but if we're going to be true followers of Jesus, sooner or later we all need to learn it. The lesson hurts, but I thank God for it. In the end, He's the only One I'm out to please.



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