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Pleasing Jesus instead of people

Struggling With People Pleasing: What Pleases God?

Instead of asking yourself what pleases God, do you instead feel like you are trapped in a cycle of seeking the approval of others? When someone is mad at you or doesn’t like you, it can tear you up inside; getting them to like you again is all you can think about. Your happiness depends on others. 

Living in this manner is difficult—I know, because I struggle with people pleasing, too. You don’t have to feel alone in this. Instead of believing the lie that you have to please others, you need to instead ask yourself: “What pleases God?” Living like this doesn’t. In fact, it’s not loving God, yourself or others well, either.

You can be free from people-pleasing when you know the truth that you are supposed to please God alone, and make it your top priority—choosing to do it each day. The more you know God, the more you will love him. You will want to please him above others. You will become confident in him and your identity in him. As you do this, the desire to please others fades. You will know without a doubt that you are accepted, loved and have his approval. 

Keep asking yourself in each situation, “Am I seeking to please God or people?” “Is this pleasing to God?”

This is the best way to love yourself, and people too. 

What Does the Bible Say About People Pleasing?

The Bible says not to be a people-pleasing Christian but instead focus on pleasing Jesus. Paul points this out as he made the choice to please God over people, despite his past struggles with this before coming to know Christ. 

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, ESV) 

People know who you are by who you seek to please. You are his child, so seek to please God. You have God’s approval; you don’t need to win anyone else’s. His approval is what matters. If you want to know how to stop being a people pleaser Christian, ask yourself often as you make decisions: am I pleasing God by doing this, or are my motives toward pleasing others? 

Is People Pleasing a Sin?

The world tells you people pleasing is acceptable because it’s loving others well… but that is not true at all. Doing whatever others want, or always saying yes to them, is not loving them well. What pleases God—him and only him—needs to always be your focus, not caring what others think about you. 

God knows how to best love someone in their time of need, not you. Depend on him for guidance to do this and know he will not call you to help everyone. This is pleasing him: relying on him, standing in humility, accepting you can’t do it all, thus only accepting the things that are pleasing to God. What you do in your body matters now and for eternity with Christ.

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, ESV) 

You will one day stand before him; thus, pleasing him is what matters. Please him on earth and what is to come in heaven for you will be great rewards. Think about eternity, not about this temporary life.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10

Bible Verses About Pleasing God Not Man

There are pleasing God verses in the Bible. Below, you will find some more scriptures on pleasing God to help you renew your mind with truth. They can help you stop thinking you have to please people in these specific circumstances:

  • Pleasing God at work. Don’t just work hard when others are watching you, which is people-pleasing, but work hard because you work for the Lord and you want to please him. 

“… not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…” (Ephesians 6:6, ESV)

  • Behavior and conduct in hard situations. You are now a child of God who lives in the light; therefore, you are bearing fruit when you live according to what pleases him. Remember to walk in righteousness in what you do, speaking truth and bringing forth his goodness to others to please him. 

“… for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10, ESV)

  • Sharing the gospel. Keep up the good work of sharing the gospel, which pleases God. Share it out of a heart to please him, not because you feel like you have to or that your Christian friends will praise you. 

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1, ESV)

What Pleases God? 7 Ways to Please God

The enemy tries to deceive you by making you think that you need to please people and that it is a good way to love others… but in fact, it is not. You are to please God and him alone. 

This truth sets you free and takes the weight of heavy expectations off of your shoulders because you can never please everyone. It’s impossible and unrealistic. It doesn’t bring happiness. It is an unhappy life to live. 

Only pleasing God brings real joy and happiness. This is the truth you need to walk in. Therefore, what pleases God according to the Bible is important to know, as well as how to please God. 

The Bible talks about the ways you can please God. In the Old Testament, there were more than 100 ways to please God through following the laws, and the New Testament talks about the greatest commandment in such places as Matthew 22:37-39. Below, you will find 7 ways to please God in the Bible.

1. How You Speak Pleases God

Sometimes it’s hard to openly disagree with others in order to stand with God. You want to fit in to be liked and not be different. But what pleases the Lord? Your words need to please him even if people don’t like you. Paul tells us this. 

“… but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4-5, ESV) 

He didn’t come with words to make everyone like him, but instead he stood strong in the Bible against popular opinion. His motivations were to please God only; God knew that. Keep your motives towards others pure, too. 

He conducted himself in this manner because he was secure in the Lord. You, too, need to be confident in the Lord by knowing you have his approval so you can stand strong in your beliefs.

You are God’s child and you are not just liked but loved by him. His judgment counts, not anyone else’s. Living a life that pleases God includes your words. Others may not want to talk to you anymore, but what matters is pleasing God alone. The Lord is proud of you! 

1 Thessalonians 2:4-5

2. Having Great Faith Pleases God

In hard times, do you struggle to have faith? What is pleasing to God? It is having faith in these hard times, which God will reward. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6, ESV) 

It pleases God that you have faith in these times, even though you don’t know (and can’t see) what will happen. God wants to take care of all things for you and he will. He has the best for you. Please him by having great faith.

3. Obeying Pleases God

Sometimes we don’t want to obey everything in the Bible because it doesn’t get the approval of others. But what pleases God? It is obeying what it says in the Bible: his commandments. 

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21, ESV) 

Pleasing God is what matters, not pleasing people. When you love him above the approval of others, you will do this. The benefits of pleasing God in this manner are vast: God will show himself to you in great ways and you will be transformed to be more like him. What Pleases God

4. Fearing God Alone to Please God

Do you people-please because you are fearful that others will not like you—and therefore you will not get that promotion at work, etc.? You don’t have to fear man, but only God. 

“… but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11, ESV) 

This will make you humble before him, to please him and him only. Fearing God comes from knowing who he is, and recognizing his authority. 

Nothing can stop the good plans God has for you. Fear him alone. You don’t have to please others out of fear. 

5. Being Like Jesus Pleases God

We can often strive to be like others because we want them to like us. Our neighbors, friends, acquaintances, co-workers… the list goes on. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” but we never succeed at this. Someone will always have more and be better. 

God calls us to be like Jesus—to copy him in every way: behavior, attitude, loving others, etc. 

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2, ESV) 

What pleases God is to be like Jesus, and this verse makes it clear that it is particularly in how you love, too. Aim to please God by drawing close to him and studying Jesus’s life in the Bible. Specifically, how he loved others so you can do the same. Pleasing people is not loving others well, as Jesus did. 

Ephesians 5:1-2

6. The Intent of Your Heart Pleases God

When you are considering whether you should help someone or do something, what is the intent of your heart? If it is to do something because you want to please people, or to be liked, or get the approval of others, this is not pleasing God.

God looks at the heart: we see this in the Bible when he chose David to be king.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV) 

He wants your heart to be seeking to please him. Take time with the Lord to examine your heart and ask him to place the right motivations in your heart if he asks you to do something. Your heart reveals your motivations with others, so if they are not right practice confession and repentance before the Lord. 

Knowing that you people please is important because it will help you to stop and to do things with the right heart, and thus motives, to please God. It will help you discern what God wants you to do and not do. Have a heart that pleases God.

7. Following His Will Pleases God

Do you care what others will think when you follow God? In order to please Jesus, you have to seek to do his will no matter what others think. He has placed you here to do his will and it pleases him when you do it. He will equip you to do it. 

“… equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21, ESV)

Others will not always agree or understand, but you are pleasing the Lord and that is a job well done. He sees the bigger picture; it does matter if others don’t agree or get it. His will is the best and you will not be sorry for following it. He has the best life for you. Seek God and tune the world out. This pleases the Lord. 

The enemy wants you to think that pleasing people is good and you don’t need to stop but that is a lie. Following what pleases God is the best way to live. 7 ways to please God include how you speak, having faith, obeying him, fearing him only, being like him, the intention of your heart, and following his will for your life. You can get free from people-pleasing by choosing to please God first.

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Nikki Evanson

Hi, I'm Nikki

My goal is to help and equip Christian women like you to live for Jesus by following Matthew 22:37-39: to love God and love people, and within this we need to learn how to love ourselves as God does.

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