For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else. (NLT)
A question that some counsellors ask their clients is, “Who is in your grandstand?” It means we need to ask ourselves who is looking on in our life, who is checking our performance, who is registering approval or disapproval. It also means we ask ourselves who it is that we are trying to please and thus who it is that is shaping or maybe distorting our lives.
It may be an over demanding parent or some other authority figure that is impossible to please. And so we strain ourselves to measure up to their expectations, and often feeling we are failing to meet them. Whoever is in our grandstand determines the way we run the race of life.
Our text reminds us that trying to please others is not to be a primary motive for living life. We certainly do want to do the right thing by others. And it is no problem to welcome praise and affirmation from others. The problem comes when people pleasing becomes our main priority.
There are two main problems with people pleasing. One is that you can’t please everyone and so will inevitably end up frustrated. The other is that we are ultimately accountable to God for how we live. Give him the prime seat in our own grandstand.