I know a lot of people who want to please others. This pursuit, however, can get you into hot water. For instance, when you need to confront a friend on their poor behavior. Or when someone doesn’t properly express their appreciation to you for appreciating them.
The Bible gives us a better way to be a people pleaser.
Paul wrote: “So we make it our goal to please [God]…” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
Instead of goal, the King James Version says, “we labor.” If it is labor, then it truly is a labor of love: work that is challenging, but rewarding. In fact, the rewards are so overwhelming, that the sweat of labor is quickly forgotten.
The Greek word for labor/goal means work that is activated by the love of honor, and so it brings forth our very best effort.
I desire to honor God and please Him, and I desire to be honored by God and find my full pleasure in Him. After all, as the Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
So my labor of love is activated first by my love for God; and secondarily by my love for others. Isn’t this what Jesus gave us as the Great Commandment (see Luke 10:27)?
It is God Who has made us for this very purpose [to enjoy Him forever] and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come [honor and eternal pleasure]. (2 Corinthians 5:5)
The Holy Spirit helps activate and direct my labor of love. The Spirit uses my labor of love to draw others to Christ; the Spirit assures me that my labor of love is bringing honor and pleasure to the Father. And in that knowledge, I find my pleasure to continue to labor in love.
So if I want to please people, my goal must be a labor in love that pleases God. Out of the knowledge of His pleasure and honor, I am better prepared to present a labor of love to others.
God pleaser (first) → People pleaser (as an overflow)
The better we please God, the better we’ll please people.