Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ”
(Galatians 1:10). – Good News Bible Translation
One of the key tools Satan is using to keep the children of God away from God is man-pleasing. God called us to love people and serve them as our act of worship to Him and the expression of our deepest love for Him. Satan has corrupted this by making many believers seek to please people to gain their affection, approval, support, praise, recognition and influence.
It is not a strange battle because our flesh really does desire these things so we all to various degrees are affected. However, the problem for the Church today is, many believers are to a large degree yielded to the world system under Satan’s grip and in the process have shifted focus from God who demands all our attention, love and service. The focus away from God is Satan’s main objective.
Man-pleasing flows from that world system that prioritises race, position, popularity, education, financial status, political beliefs, gender, etc. With the growth in and increased accessibility to mobile internet leading to high visibility for people, the urge to man-please has reached an unprecedented level.
In our current world system, most Christians are doing all they can to please anybody who has influence – bosses, politicians, religious leaders, wealthy and well connected business folks, etc. We in Nigeria have a word for such folks – ‘my helper’. It forms a good part of our daily prayer point for our helper to locate us which is no wonder that we man-please when we come into contact with anyone that loosely or closely fits the bill.
Forms of Man pleasing
– Most Christians fulfil and defend traditions in their attempt to please people. Some of us even seek to please ancestors long gone by defending traditions that have outlived their usefulness or don’t line up with the commands of God.
Sycophancy – “not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” (Eph. 6:6). Obviously, Paul’s warning has no effect on us because eye service or sycophancy is such a big part of the culture among Christians, especially with our leaders.
Praise of Men – “for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” (John 12:43). John said this about the Pharisees and it is true of us today. We dress in a certain way; speak in a foreign accent; feature our countless selfies taken at well selected location (usually with a posh car in the background) on social media; practice religious activities like fasting, prayer, quoting scriptures, giving to church, etc., all to gain the praises of men.
Hero Worshipping – As we have sought to please our ‘helpers’, we have produced in them ‘demi gods’ whom we worship. They can do no wrong or say no wrong.
Competition/Comparison/Uniformity – We take decisions about life issues based on our attempt to compete or compare favourably with others. In the process, we practice uniformity and lose our God given originality (which we consider to be too uncommon to accept).
Children of God, Satan has disarmed the army of God with this tool of man pleasing. There is an urgent need for us to repent and become the God pleasers we were called to be when He bought us with a precious price (the life of His Son).
So, how do we become God pleasers?
Repent – Man-pleasing means a rejection of God because we seek the approval of men and not His. A genuine repentance is our first and most important action.
Focus completely on Him – “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). Hebrews 12:2a also says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” We must follow repentance with our focus now completely on Jesus. He is the One who owns us and He is the One to whom we will render an account of our time here on Earth.
Worship Him first – Learn to develop the attitude of worshipping Him. Quality time spent in singing true worship songs is essential but it goes beyond that because it is an attitude that says, ‘I want to know and intimate with You more, more than just serving You.’
Serve Him second – When filled with a desire to know Jesus more, we will become more yielded to Him and He will fill us with the Holy Spirit who is most powerful and would enable us seek to serve and please Jesus alone.
Part of serving Him is loving and serving people but the motive will be to be pleasing to God and not men.
God-pleasers live liberated lives while exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit with courage because they are Spirit led. This is what you and I need to become so that God can move mightily in and through us to transform our lives, our nation and the nations of the earth through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is a desperate yearning from the heart of Jesus for you and me to focus solely on Him because He has to be Lord of all or not Lord at all. So, I ask you, which is He?