Do you know a people pleaser? Someone who isn’t happy unless everyone else is happy with them? Someone who just CAN’T be at peace if someone is mad at them or snubs them or is critical?
Yeah. We all do.
Life is difficult for people like that. For reasons too deep and varied to explore here, people pleasers have given others tremendous power to affect their well being and peace. It’s a dangerous game to play because, as we’ve all experienced, you can’t please everyone.
Our staff met this morning for some devotional time and we opened up to Galatians 2 and read some interesting stuff about the Apostle Peter. If you’re not familiar with ol’ Petey, he was the loudmouth of the 12 apostles. You’ve heard the phrase “Open mouth, insert foot?” With Peter it was more like “Open mouth, insert Buick.” Peter has several entries in the list of “Most Embarrassing Moments in the Bible.” The kind of stuff borne of insecurity and a need to be accepted.
But that’s all before Jesus restores him. It’s right there in the gospels: Peter, having denied Him three times, is eye to eye with Jesus. And it’s obvious that Jesus really loves him. And it’s obvious that Peter has a HUGE part to play in the story. And it’s obvious that all is forgiven.
One might think that after Jesus identifies Petere as the rock upon which He will build His church, he might struggle less with insecurity. Need the approval of others less. But one would be wrong.
Check out what’s-a-happening in Galatians 2:
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Peter understands grace and knows full well that we are not saved by our works. He is free and feels free to hang out with and share table fellowship with Gentile Christians (converts who did not keep to the old Jewish codes). But when some Jewish friends came to visit, Peter kicked his new buddies to the curb for fear that he would be judged.
Peter, it seems, still struggles. Even after a moment of affirmation that would turn Rick Moranis into William Wallace, Peter is still a people pleaser. And maybe, so are you. It doesn’t have to be your defining characteristic to affect you. We all have streaks of this running deep under the surface.
And you know what fixes it? Finding your identity in Christ. Letting your ‘OK-ness’ come not from the approval of others, but from the approval of God. And this approval – this right standing with God, as Paul goes on to explain (go ahead! Read the rest of Galatians 2!) is given freely. Not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Jesus has done for us.
Today, let’s remember that God’s grace is given – not earned. The only one we have to please – is Him.