Many of you have read in my book Lay it Down or heard me speak about how I was an addicted people pleaser. It was an unhealthy addiction. Unhealthy because it was rooted in shame. Most people pleasing is. We focus on pleasing others in order to get something back. It is manipulative. Self-centered. For me, I wanted to please you so you would think well of me and I could then have a sense of worth. It was give to get. Because this kind of people pleasing is shame based, the only solution is the gospel.
BUT — the Apostle Paul was a people pleaser and it was healthy! We see it over and over in I Corinthians chapters 8-10 and it is summarized in I Cor 10:33, “Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of the many, that they may be saved.” I think Paul uses this statement to summarize five key principles for pleasing others that enable it to be gospel-healthy.
- It is never for our own advantage (I Cor 10:33). In chapter 8, verse 3, he says, “love builds up.” We never please others so that we get something in return and we are built up. It is always for the other person’s advantage.
- It is a giving away our rights. Again in chapter 8, Paul mentions how he has the right to eat food that was previously offered to idols because he knows “an idol has no real existence” (vs 4). But he continues and says for some, because of their former involvement with idols, this is a real problem. A stumbling block. So he concludes, “…if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat…” (vs 13). A love that builds up never disregards a weak conscience.
- It requires endurance. Why? Because we are always giving. And giving. I Cor 9:12 – “...we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel.“
- It is always focused on serving others. In chapter 9, verse 19, Paul writes, “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”
- It is always for the advance of the gospel. “I do it all for the sake of the gospel...that they may be saved” (I Cor 9:23; 10:33). It is never about me.
NOW – here is the kicker. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (I Cor 11:1). How is what he did an imitation of Jesus? Philippians 2:5-11 spells it out. Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” He gave up that right. He took “the form of a servant.” He endured “to the point of death.” Why did he do all this? So that “every tongue might confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” He did it for the advance of the gospel.
This is gospel people pleasing.
- What is one thing you can do to please someone for the sake of the gospel?
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