“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” -Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

I enjoy being liked by people, don’t you?  I like being likeable.  Whenever possible, I like pleasing people and being a pleasant, pleasing person.  I don’t want people, when they see me coming, to find an excuse to leave or to dread an encounter with me.  For most of us, this is a reasonable and normal inclination.  But, if I might be completely transparent for a moment, it hasn’t always been this way for me. 

You see, until recently, with the help of some strong friends, my wife and some really wise spiritual counsel, my own inclination to enjoy being liked was anything but reasonable or normal.  Instead of  finding simple enjoyment from having a people pleasing nature, I discovered that for me, it was an obssesive need.  Because of this, I found myself being a man of extremes.  Either I would do absolutely anything in order to be liked and accepted, or if that acceptance and approval was not forthcoming, I would turn into the most unlikeable person imaginable. 

Ultimately, what I have discovered (and am still in process of discovering) is that my problem stemmed from not being comfortable or content with who I was.  Ironically, this fact was painfully obvious to almost everyone, except me.  I didn’t really like the man staring back at me from the mirror each morning, so in order to compensate for that I found myself constantly jumping through all styles of hoops to get everyone else to like me.

Now, all of this is more involved than I am eluding to here and had to do with areas of my past, but the most effective remedy was not merely psychological or emotional, but spiritual.  I figured the man I saw, was the man that the rest of the world saw and since I had to work so hard to accept me, the rest of the world needed to be prodded into acceptance too.  Then I was forced, by most practical definitions of the term forced, into seeing myself through the eyes of my Heavenly Father, and I discovered something astounding.  He doesn’t just like me and accept me…He loves me.  And do you know what a reasonable person will do for a person who loves them?  That’s right…whatever’s possible to please that person.

And how do we please God?  By trusting Him.  With EVERYTHING!  The writer of Hebrews says it this way, And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)  I never really had faith that I was liked, loved or accepted by anyone, because I continually had to work so hard to get them to.  Best way to please God?  Accept and trust that He really does love us, and to prove that, He sent the One He loved most as a sacrifice to ensure that His love for us is secure and available.  If God really does love me that much just for who He says I am (and He does), what difference should it make to me if I am acceptable to anyone else?  That kind of love can’t be bought, earned, cajoled, or worked out.  It simply is because He simply is….LOVE! (1 John 4:8)


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February 2010
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