One of my sons has had the busiest school year that he’s ever had. I’d been getting on him about getting and keeping his room picked up and organized. After much frustration, I did what I’ve done many times before. I decided to clean his room for him. I had his room looking and smelling better than it had in a good while. When my son came home from school, he walked into his room and said, “Thanks, Mom, but you didn’t have to do that. I was going to clean it up.” I told him that I just wanted to help him. He explained that if I really wanted to help him, I’d let him have a few bucks and hang out with some of his friends. I was irritated! I felt like he didn’t appreciate all I’d done for him.
After reflection, of course, I realize that he is responsible for being obedient and doing what he’s told, but I had to admit that I had cleaned his room more for me than for him. I also realized that while he may have been grateful to have me off of his back, he really didn’t care whether his room was clean or not. It made me think about how often we do things to please others, only to find that it was the absolute wrong thing to do, and often, our motive, in spite of our best intentions, can be wrong.
When we make decisions based on pleasing people, we will find ourselves insecure, tired, and frustrated, and unfruitful. The bondage of people pleasing can a nightmare. I know; I’ve lived it. When you don’t want people to be disappointed, angry or upset, you are vulnerable to being tossed around by their every whim and emotion. You’re always trying to figure out what people want and how you can accommodate. You can’t clearly hear what God wants because His voice is drowned out by the desires of others. When we live in fear the disapproval and rejection of others, we are in bondage. We can’t focus on our real purpose unless we shift it from others to Him. Only the Lord’s presence can quell the demands that a person is apt to feel who has issues with people pleasing. Proverbs 29:25 instructs that, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” While we should seek peace and strive to help others, our desire to please the Lord must always come first. Then, we will keep healthy relationships with others and be free from bondage.
If our decisions are based on self, what feels, looks, tastes, and sounds good, we will have a shallow existence. While we might temporarily feel good, the feeling will never last long. Like a bucket with a hole in it, a person living a selfish life can never be satisfied for long. Christ’s love should control everything we do in our lives. With His death on the cross, we should be dead to living for the desires of the flesh. II Corinthians 5:15 tells us, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” So, we must “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Our decisions must be based on pleasing Christ and His Word, the final authority for our lives. When we do this, some will surely be displeased with us, but we will always have inner peace, knowing that we have been obedient to what the Lord would have us do. As we all know, we can get caught doing the “right” things for the wrong reasons. We end of spinning our wheels, not being productive, when we aren’t properly aligned with His will.
I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 26:3, which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” When we focus on Him first, and not seeking after approval from others or fulfilling our own selfish desires, we will have peace in even the most adverse situations. As I was reminded this week, it’s not about being “religious.” It’s a heart issue. Our very core must seek to please Him because when we do, we won’t be overwhelmed, stressed, or burdened. Instead, we will move peacefully and confidently through our dilemmas, knowing that God will lead us and protect us.
This past week I was faced with two totally different dilemmas. After conversing with two friends, each about a different dilemma, I was met with the same question: “Who are you doing it for?” The question struck me with the same force both times it was asked. Regardless of what kinds of decisions we make, it’s always important to examine why we make the decisions we make and who we’re making them for. We must make sure that we are doing things out of our love and obedience to Christ, not others or our selfish desires.
Even in the small things, like helping my son clean his room, I should’ve stopped to prayerfully consider the options. Then, it would’ve been clear to me. I would not have cleaned his room. Instead, I would’ve made him do what I told him to do, and I would’ve avoided that little aggravation. There’s a verse that tells us that the little foxes are the ones that destroy the vine. Many times, it’s like that. Those little things that we do, when we aren’t called to do them, cause us stress and can take our focus off of fulfilling our purpose. Let’s make sure that we’re always listening to the right voice and doing exactly what we’ve been instructed to do by God so that we can live in perfect peace.