Why I Care What People Think (Well, most of the time…)

Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.   Proverbs 27:17

The “dangers” of social media are manifest and obvious to me, brought home every time I post something out of emotion.

Even when people agree with me, I think it is always a danger to use social media to express our emotions, and I’ve pretty much decided that I need to stop doing that. In an era when spiritual maturity is lacking, putting our frustration, or even our righteous indignation, on full display for the world runs the risk of doing much more harm than good.

But occasionally, I slip up.

Fortunately, one of these recent slip-ups a couple of weeks ago turned out okay. It started some spirited but healthy discussion (a stunning and rare occurrence on Facebook) about how we react to other people. The original Facebook post was:

No matter what you do, you cannot please everyone. Sometimes it seems we have people in our lives that are NEVER pleased. All you can do is continue to do the best you can, keep trying to improve, and continue seeking Christ in word and action. Seek to please the one above all before trying to please anyone else

The responses from friends and church members challenged me to think more deeply about this issue, which is a good thing even if it’s difficult. There are several layers to the thought process about how we might respond to what others think.

Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you.  1 Thessalonians 4:1

There are those people who are empirically negative. Sometimes, we encounter people that just cannot see the positive in anything and they generally keep us from seeing the positives in others or ourselves.

There are good people that just do not mesh with us. They may be fine people; but, for whatever reason, we mix with all the effectiveness of oil and water. Perhaps it’s best to keep a healthy distance, until we can learn to live in the contrast.

Maybe we need to take a break from such relationships; and in some cases, that may be a permanent break. Earthly relationships are not always intended to be ongoing, as we see in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways for the benefit of the Kingdom. If we can separate from these toxic relationships without carrying a load of anger and bitterness and gossip, it may end up being the healthiest option.

But there is another side of this, one that we sometimes overlook. It’s one thing to determine that you will not live life to please everyone, because we know that such a life is an absolute impossibility. We are called to please God above all things.

Crusades are almost always destructive for someone. If we live our life on a constant “Crusade” to please others, we run the risk of destroying ourselves. We can run ourselves into the ground spiritually, mentally and emotionally by looking to make other people “pleased” with us.

So by all means, live first to please the God who is revealed in Jesus our Lord, through the Holy Spirit and in the words of scripture.

But…

There are those that God places in our life that show us that Jesus is Lord. They reveal to us the Holy Spirit, and they challenge us in our interpretation of scripture. And the Spirit speaks to us through them in multiple ways.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1-2

No, we may not always agree with them. But if we never listen to those who disagree, we are not challenged! Quite often, I believe that God places such people in our lives to hold us accountable and keep us humble.

Yeah, I admit it. I do care what other people think. It’s not that I’m willing to sell my soul in order to make them happy or to please them. But I do care, because I believe that the Holy Spirit works through others to make us better!

I’ve had too many people out there who had to kick me where the good Lord split me in order to get my attention. I believe that God was/is working through those people.

There are so many in my life who make me think and re-think. They challenge me to be better than I am now, get in my face when I mess up and encourage me when I’m down. They push me to wear different sets of lenses rather than wearing the same ones I’ve had for years.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  James 5:16

There are so many who show me a clearer view of Jesus through how they live. And some show me just how powerful Jesus is, because I have the privilege of witnessing God at work in their life.

No, I don’t need to wreck myself trying to “please” them. But I do care what they think and I need to listen, because God just might be speaking through them.

Most importantly, they have given me every reason to respect them, particularly those who exemplify Jesus in how they live their life.

Most of us would have a small group of people on whom we depend for such wisdom and guidance. But I learn something from all of you, including everyone in our church. No, we certainly don’t agree on everything, but that’s just one more way of God making us better.

I would never encourage anyone to live their life like it’s an opinion poll, trying to please people that refuse to be pleased. Instead, find those that you trust and value their thoughts, opinions, and challenges to your thinking.

You never know, it just might be God speaking. After all, since when did God always agree with us?

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s