Word of the Week: Pleasing

A useful tool for getting ahead, building a great reputation, and driving yourself nuts, pleasing others is a temptation.

Personally, I have been facing this temptation rather obviously. The recent struggle has required me to either strive to please a certain person or act according to what God says is right. I’m reaping some very frustrating consequences due to not pleasing said person.

Yet I’m glad for this, thanking the Lord even in the unpleasant.

Galatians 1:10 challenges you and I:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Broken down…

Step 1: Trying

Trying to please people starts with striving and intending. It begins in our hearts when we shape our thoughts in pursuit of getting the approval or acceptance of others.

Step 2: To Please

Biblos.com defines the action:

pleasing def

Pleasing someone requires action (or inaction) in accordance with that person’s wishes. It is acting as they would like you to. Just as a servant would do.

Step 3: People

The first two steps happen in order; we strive to please. It’s this last bit where we make a clearer choice.

Choosing “people” isn’t the better option. “People” means not God.

Our striving, working, and serving are all to be unto the Lord. That is what is best for us and what brings Him glory.

Just as money and God cannot both be our masters, other people and God cannot both be those we submit to. Other people and God have far too many competing purposes, directions, and methods for us to obey both simultaneously. His way ultimately wins out in the end.

Start on the winning side. Begin with the trying to please God. Sometimes (often!) He asks us to do things that will also please other people. It’s lovely. Just be prepared to make the choice when called upon.

As I can attest far too well at the moment: choosing God over man is always worth it, but man doesn’t tend to react well. Thankful the Lord approves, gives grace, and can even work in those “others” who are displeased with me.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #SittingAmongFriends, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Acceptance We Trust

{The fourth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

 Acceptance plays an important role in our self-worth and our reception of love. Without acceptance, it’s difficult to maintain a job, excel at anything, etc….Having other’s approval is valuable for living at peace with others and even reaching people for Christ.

Acceptance, like Google or medicine, is absolutely something God created and works through. When acceptance is viewed and lived well, it’s a gift.

acceptance

When acceptance by others is seen an end and not a means or as worthy of our reliance and dedication, we have a problem. Because this is where we trust in acceptance by others rather than trusting in God. Scripture often phrases this issue as trying to please people or win their approval.

Galatians 1:10 challenges us to ask:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. “

To live as a servant of God is not to live as one seeking to please man. Obviously, the Bible doesn’t also say: make no friends. Make people unhappy. By this, you will please God. (Wow would I be a role model somedays if this were His command!)

The Lord is all about good relationships and serving others.

The issue lies in the stock we put into others’ acceptance.

Trusting in acceptance means that we rely on others’ approval to validate what we do or who we are.

At the heart of acceptance is validation or justification. At the heart of trusting in acceptance- seeking to be justified and approved of.

Putting our trust in acceptance can look like this:

  1. If I am accepted by this person, I will feel loved.
  2. In feeling loved, I will be more worthwhile.
  3. My worthwhileness will enable me to do more good in the world.
  4. By doing good in the world, I’ll be more worthwhile.
  5. By being more worthwhile, I’ll be more lovable.
  6. By being more lovable, I’ll be more easily accepted by people.

Acceptance by others is justification for justification’s sake. It’s a cycle, a circle, and it’s self-contained.

There are two issues here.

Trusting in acceptance by others leaves us perpetually trying to earn more acceptance.

Trusting in others’ acceptance is precarious and risky; when we are rejected, as we will be, that’s just that. And it feels hopeless.

Really, that’s all one issue.

Because trusting in acceptance ultimately means trusting in our works. That’s how human acceptance functions. It’s based on what we do, what we strive for, and which other mere human beings care.

Trusting in acceptance by the Lord is so much more fulfilling and hopeful. Plus- it matters and lasts for eternity.

To be approved by God, all you need to do is be saved by Jesus Christ. Your works don’t matter. Your character doesn’t count. What He has done for you and who He is all that matters.

And the saved need to remember that daily. Because we are being rejected daily. We are failing daily. We are sinning, offending, hurting others, and seeking approval in all the wrong ways…daily.

I pray that we know this truth and live it because this is such a regular avenue of joy in the Christian life. Meanwhile, putting too much stock into being accepted by others is a regular source of discouragement. Take inventory.

How much of your life is based on seeking the approval of man? How much of your life is based on knowing you have been accepted by God and living a life pleasing to Him- worthy of your calling? (Ephesians 4:1)

For this series, I’ll be writing each Monday on something (or someone) I tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

Writers and non-writers are welcome to submit guest posts. Contact me here by June 12th telling me what you trust in besides God and how He helps you trust Him more.

Starting June 20th guest posting will begin!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

The Kindness Kind of Fruit

Among the many fruits listed in Galatian 5:22, kindness is one that often seems to be overlooked. Patience? We’re glad to pray for more of that. Love, joy, faithfulness? Who doesn’t need more of those in their life? But kindness…kind of seems to encompass all these.

How would you explain being kind to someone? Being nice by being patient or giving? To tell someone what kindness looks like kind of means describing all of those other fruits again.

But kindness is distinct, as each of the fruits of the Spirit are. Kindness has a quality of its own that sets it apart as a fruit with its own taste and purpose.

Not just being patient, but cheerfully so.

Not just loving, but warmly caring.

Not just joyous, but delighting beyond oneself.

Not just faithful, but concerned with others’ qualities, needs, and desires.

Scripture’s word for kindness, “chréstotés,” is understood as Spirit-produced goodness. It is not tainted by self-gain or the cruelty of sinful nature. Rather, kindness in its true form is something purely given by God according to His will and character. The definition of being kind as a fruit of the Spirit includes meeting “real needs, in God’s way, in God’s timing.

Little is sweeter than that. The right word at the right moment. The cheerful, caring gift that furthers the work of the Lord in someone’s heart. That’s kindness.

And its fruit we ought to ask the Lord to produce in us. More than our niceness or our own sin-hybrid versions of fruit, Sprit-produced kindness tastes sweet. Its nourishment provides energy and hydrates our thirsting souls.

Ask the Lord, as He shows you His kindness, to tend to your heart that you kindness might be something you can pass on as well.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

Love Others

photo from: everydaywild.com

Love your neighbor as yourself. This, we know well, is the second greatest commandment:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” –(Matthew 22)

All other commandments are encompassed in these two. So, loving God and loving others can take a ton of different forms. Not lying is one form. Being generous is another.

But the love which Scripture tells us to have for one another is deeper than our “doing.” Truly loving others depends on our loving God, as the second commandment follows and hangs on the first. The first- love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind- is about how we are. It’s with our whole being that we are to love Him.

When we love others, it’s to flow out from that all-encompassing, defining love that we have for God. Our ability to have that love at all comes from His loving us (1 John 4:19.)

Do you see the inter-dependency here?

To love others well, we must love God with our whole being. For our whole being to love God, we must love others. For us to love at all we must experience the love of God to have love defined for and instilled in us, uprooting our corrupted version of the concept.

It’s the love of God, forceful as the ocean surging through us and shaping us like a rocky shore, that allows love to change things.

When we want our loved ones to change their minds or hearts or ways…

During the times that are tough when we long for others to grow and heal and find worth in life…

As we rejoice with others…

While we cry out in loneliness, suffering, clinging to hope…

It’s that real love that really takes affect and changes things.

We can follow endless strings of advice and wise reasoning. Our book shelves can be filled with literature on strengthening relationships, reaching those around us, and becoming more selfless. In discussion we can adopt amazing, effective strategies. When others frustrate and hurt us we can do our best to forgive and to see the good in them.

But what we really need is the love of God. What we really need, to love others, is to love the Lord and to be loved by the Lord.

His Word doesn’t say “noisy clanging cymbal” for nothing. All of our doing and trying and striving can get other’s attention. It can make noise in their life, waking them up and making waves. Without love, it never turns to music. It never gains rhythm, direction, or purpose. There is no harmony with the heart that is hearing it –without the love of God.

Start there.

As you look at others, trace your steps backwards. Step back to loving them as you do yourself, not as your style permits. One foot further, step into loving them because you love the Lord. Look to Him for the welling up inside of a more perfect love. And as you open up to be filled, step back further. Make the space for His love to be for you, too. Love because He first loved you, and that love will carry through.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, and #DanceWithJesus.

When Communicating Seems Impossible

Photo from: stevemehta.com

Marriage is a place in which we learn just how difficult the basics of communication really are.

I’ve learned in my marriage that what means one thing to him doesn’t mean the same to me. His use of words is often full of hyperbole and expression, I’m often literal. He says what he thinks, I think about all the different things I say. It’s hard to figure out at times which thing that was said was a decision, and which was just talking. Our lines get crossed.

This isn’t just my marriage.

There are stories of marriages that fall apart because a wife works day and night to make the home perfect and spotless, and, never receiving thanks or compliments, wears herself thin trying to improve it further. Meanwhile, her husband is pleased, but he never expresses it. His displeasure grows, however, as she seems less and less interested in him and more obsessed with the home. They end up in counseling because she feels overworked and underappreciated, and he feels like she doesn’t care about him.

The resulting phrases are familiar to us:

  • “How can you possibly say that? Or think that?”
  • “Haven’t you paid any attention?”
  • “Why didn’t you say so?!”
  • “What do you think I’m doing all this for??”
  • “If you had just…”
  • “That’s not enough. Don’t you know how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes?”

When words like these start flying, it’s time to bring in a third party. Or rather, the first party: the Lord.

Ever considered that just like God made you (and the whole world, including your spouse,) He also made language? He made communication in every form. Nonverbal, demonstrative, literal, actual words, in written form. All by His design.

He also designed marriage, with all of its cracks, potholes, and gaping gulfs of “we just aren’t able to connect.” Let Him span all of that. Let Him unite the two of you in such a way that at long last, those impossible communication gaps are bridged.

All others things that we unite in in marriage won’t last. Causes, personality traits, commitments, passions, and hopes will change over time. The Lord will not. All of those little things that get lost between two people as they try to work together are known to the Lord.

Unite in Him.

I’ll say it again, in this rambling, poorly communicated post: unite in Him.

If your words to each other aren’t working: pray. Together. You’ll find that there is more grace, more possibility, and more opportunity to be one when the One who matters gets to speak first.

Gratefully linking up with:  Woman to Woman WednesdayWomen with Intention, TellHisStory,Thought-Provoking Thursday, Missional Women, and DancewithJesus