So I was reading through Romans the other day when one sentence stopped me in my tracks.
“We must not just please ourselves.” Romans 15:1 NLT
Well, that advice flies in the face of what our society teaches, doesn’t it? Self-help books, talk show hosts, and advice columns all teach that we should never live to please others. Seeking to win the love and acceptance of other people by saying and doing certain things only leads to empty, one-sided relationships, and any counselor would agree.
I agree. And so would Paul, the author of that quote.
But Paul didn’t teach that we should live to please others in order to win their approval. He didn’t advance a plan for winning friends and gaining popularity. Instead, Paul taught that we should seek to please others out of respect for their view of God. The bottom line is this: what we say and do influences others. So when we choose a particular behavior or action, those watching us are influenced. They have an opinion about us and about God.
For instance, when a group of Christians collects funds to provide gifts for the needy at Christmas, people are blessed and know that God cares about them. When we invite someone to church, they are reminded about God. When exhibit honesty, loyalty, or compassion because we choose to live by God’s standards, we model God’s character for those around us. And, when we choose to avoid certain things or activities out of respect for those with weaker faith, we are displaying love and sensitivity. Check out what Paul said:
“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” Romans 15:2 NLT
Living to please others is actually a very good thing…..it just has a vastly different definition in Scripture than it does in our culture! Our goal in pleasing others is to encourage them and their faith in God.
Today, live to please others. Not to win their approval, but to protect and encourage their faith.
Please others by showing love when someone has been rude.
Please others by displaying Godly character which encourages them to raise their own standards of living!
Please others by investing into a friend. Showing unexpected kindness models God’s love!
Please others by being patient with them.
All of these actions help to encourage the faith in others! You might not see the fruit in the moment, but we trust that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. We trust that the Holy Spirit plants seeds in their lives through our actions….seeds that will yield a great harvest!