Do you have childhood memories that make you wince? Have you ever done something so foolish when you were a teenager that made you wonder, “What in the world was I thinking when _____”. Well, I know I do. My whole life I’ve struggled with being a people pleaser. I’m embarrassed to say, that when I was a youngster, I even went so far as to eat cat food at a party to get attention and make people laugh at me. Oh, yeah, it was bad. Not just the cat food but the realization afterward, that what I did was so rideculous it must have made me look like Steve Martin in the Jerk.
According to the research of the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow, every human being has 5 specific primal needs. He came up with the well know pyramid, a visual diagram, referred to as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the bottom of the chart is the most basic need of all, physiological; This represents food, water, and basic shelter. Next up the pyramid, is the need for safety: Shelter from war, physical harm, violence, access to work (economic safety). Then third is the need to be loved and accepted; These needs are especially strong in childhood but they also carry over into our adult life. They play out mostly in the realm of family, intimacy and friendship. We all have a desire to be loved and accepted but how far do people go to get those needs met and to what lengths will they go?
Now there is a notable character in the Bible that I always think of when I am temped to “care what other people think of me”. That person is King Saul, the first appointed King of Israel. He began well, but ended his reign miserably. Why? He started out humble, to the point where he was so shy he hid himself among the baggage when he was called out as King; but eventually he began to care more and more about what “the people thought of him,” instead of what God commanded. Then, The Lord told him to destroy everything of the Amalekites, he only partially obeyed, preferring to let the people, “have their way,” and take home some of the spoils. Eventually, he lost the kingdom; He suffered an evil spirit because God rejected him, his jealousy and anger practically made him useless and he ended up committing suicide.
Now I know that I have not been immune to that sort of pride and rebellion. I have started well only to end miserably because I was so focused on “performing” for God and others, instead of keeping “relationship” my main priority. I think I now understand a little better why it says in Samuel 15:22, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” There have been times when I became so focused on “the work of God,” and what others thought of my “performance,” that “relationship” took a back seat. This is a huge error that many people fall into. Truly, it is a trap.
My only solace, is that we serve a God who is merciful and full of second chances. Psalm 86:15 reveals: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed,” Malachi 3:6.
There are some great lessons that we can learn from our sins if we take the time to face them, repent, and look to God for the strength we need to overcome. I opt to become a God pleaser and not a people pleaser. I desire “relationship” now, over “performance” and people pleasing. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and get our priorities straight. Let us put God first. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Let us walk in the freedom that Christ has won for us on the Cross. Why don’t we take off the grave clothes and come out of the tomb.