Trying to Please Others

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What does it mean to seek to please others? Is it always wrong to do so? The literal Greek meaning for “please” (aresko) in this verse is “to become acceptable to another.” In general, it means to accommodate one’s self to the opinions, desires, and interests of others—to be agreeable, which means to become of the same mind or have the same opinion as others. On the surface, pleasing people seems like a positive way to live peacefully; and indeed, there are times when we should endeavor to please one another—the Scriptures encourage us to live peacefully and put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:16; Matthew 23:11).

However, motive is always key in whether pleasing people is a godly pursuit. For example, if a person seeks to serve others entirely for their own self-interest, such as to gain favor, influence, or a reputation as a “good person”, then the behavior is not aligned with the heart of Jesus, who did not seek to please Himself (Romans 15:1-3).

Clearly, the Apostle Paul viewed people-pleasing as a negative pursuit in certain situations. Paul asked if he was trying to seek the favor of men or God—it apparently could not be both. In fact the Apostle went so far as to say, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” When we consider Mt. 6:24, the Biblical view of people-pleasing becomes even clearer:

Although this verse refers to serving money, the word master literally means “what or whoever takes authority over another.” In other words, who we serve as master determines what is suitable and acceptable for us—what/who determines our behavior and mindset. It follows that it is of utmost importance to thoughtfully determine which “master” that—to varying degrees—enslaves us.

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father,

You alone must determine what course I must follow; it is you alone that is worthy and capable to guide my thoughts and actions. Please forgive me for times I have tried to serve two masters; I only want to be devoted to my Father and no other! Thank you for your cleansing and renewal. I love you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

One Reply to “Trying to Please Others”

  1. It can sometimes be hard to keep silent to maintain peace when someone is wrong in their belief or interpretation. At those times we need to remember as a servant of Christ we are doing what he guides us to help the other person. The key is to still do it with peace and love praying that the Holy Spirit will work in them. Thank you so much for your insight.

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