I’m sad to say other people’s opinions sometimes wreck havoc in my life.

it’s called being a People Pleaser. And I started the practice early in life.

As Larry and I worked on our two books in the God’s Intriguing Questions series, I was surprised how many of God’s and Jesus’s questions refer to people pleasing. Let’s look at another example from John 5:44 when Jesus asked the Jewish leaders: How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another?

Jesus is addressing the Jews who are obsessed with the opinions of others who they believe must think well of them, speak highly of them, and recognize their Law-abiding behavior. Because Jesus is exposing their sinful pride, they plan to kill him. They reject the fact only God is glorious. They think they should qualify.

God’s glory can be defined as the ultimate perfections of every one of his attributes. The religious leaders don’t meet such a high standard. We’ve been seeing the contrast. Unlike everyone, including the religious leaders, every attribute of God is always perfect and exhibited in the best possible way.

Somehow in childhood we each begin to seek glory from other people to feel safe and be considered “good”. We don’t know how to believe God unconditionally loves us even when we struggle and fail. Then we react to people who don’t acknowledge our goodness in four primary sinful ways: anger, sadness/hurt, shame, and anxiety.

  • I’m angry because you don’t see me the way you should.
  • I’m sad or hurt because you make me feel bad about myself.
  • I feel ashamed because my imperfections are revealed for everyone to see.
  • I’m anxious or fearful because I feel powerless to protect my reputation.
The degree to which we are angry, sad, ashamed, or anxious indicates the level of our dependence upon people’s opinions. They must define us rightly becoming our god. We have forsaken our loving God’s opinion of us who knows the truth about our imperfections and loves us regardless.

In contrast, Jesus says to the Jews—and to us—, “I do not receive glory from people” (John 5:41). Therefore, Jesus can say to the Jews, “Look at me for your example to stop receiving glory from one another.” His motive is to free them from their people pleasing and give them the joyful assurance of Jehovah’s unconditional love for them. God’s love is something they can’t earn.

How does God want to set us free? John 5:30-38 gives us Jesus’s insights as he uses himself as an example of truth:

v. 30: I can do nothing on my own

v. 30: I seek only God’s will

v. 32: God will justify me and determine my value

v. 33: John has testified of me, not for my benefit but for yours. I don’t need John’s confirmation

v. 36: The glorious things I do are determined and empowered by my Father, not by my own power

v. 37: God’s affirmation of me is enough for me

v. 41: I don’t lay hold of the praise given me. I hear it but I don’t accept it as defining me.

We can’t comprehend fully a man who had absolutely no need for any human to think well of him. Jesus says, “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30).

Jesus’s motivating attitude is the key for diminishing people pleasing. We can more and more recognize we each have absolutely nothing to offer God or others. His power is the only source of any good work we do. Then our motive will be to reflect God’s glorious perfections and not our own.

  • How does meditating on God’s glory motivate you to desire to diminish your people pleasing?
  • How do you feel knowing God patiently works to diminish your people pleasing and doesn’t expect you to be perfect until you reach heaven? Why do you think that’s so?

Perfect God, I praise you for your glorious being, in which there is absolutely nothing imperfect in you. Thank you for being willing to use me even though I’m a weak and inadequate vessel.

(This blog post is adapted from our book God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature)