Romans 1:17 “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
“Faith is all in all, both in the beginning and progress of Christian life. It is not from faith to works, as if faith put us into a justified state, and then works kept us in it; but it is all along from faith to faith; it is faith pressing forward, and gaining the victory over unbelief.”Matthew Henry
The walk of the believer is one that has many commonalities and if you take the time to share with a fellow believer your struggles, you’ll quickly discover your not alone. Everyone who has been born again has partaken of the nature of God. The dilemma arises from an inherent sinful nature that battles for supremacy against God’s nature in man, namely, His indwelling Holy Spirit.
The life of a believer begins with faith and ultimately ends with faith, as the NIV relates it, “from first to last”, the journey is bookended by faith.
The encouragement by Paul is for the just or the righteous, it isn’t given to those who just want to be “good people”, or for those who “want to make the world a better place”. I’m sure the people who subscribe to these mottos are well intentioned, and many are blessed by these acts of kindness, but when it comes to living life, there has to be a greater purpose than simply being a nice person. There are lots of nice people who others regard as being kind yet are still dying inside.
Habakkuk 2:4 “Look at the proud one; his soul is not upright–but the righteous will live by faith.”
Niceness for the sake of being nice is an exercise in self-satisfaction. People pleasers gain a measure of justification if they feel like others are being made happy because of them. If people aren’t happy because of them, they take it personally and hence either avoid others or try harder by doing more to accomplish what they think is necessary.
According to an article in Psychology Today, August 2017, there are signs that reveal people-pleasers. For many, the eagerness to please stems from self-worth issues. They hope that saying yes to everything asked of them will help them feel accepted and liked.
Other people-pleasers have a history of maltreatment, and somewhere along the way, they decided that their best hope for better treatment was to try to please the people who mistreated them. Over time, for them, people-pleasing became a way of life.
- They pretend to agree with everyone.
- They feel responsible for how other people feel.
- They apologize often.
- They feel burdened by the things others have to do.
- They can’t say no.
- They feel uncomfortable if someone is angry.
- They act like the people around them.
- They need praise to feel good.
- They go to great lengths to avoid conflict.
- They don’t admit when their feelings are hurt.
The world is full of people who have different temperaments, one may be a please first while others may be a little more assertive.
If people pleasers are considered the “nice people”, where does that leave everyone else?
I was looking up the antonym of a people-pleaser and found an interesting description in the thesaurus–God pleaser.
There were many other ideas for people who don’t fit the criteria as a people-pleaser, many that were quite disturbing, but since I’m not what you characterize as a people pleaser, I’m going to hold onto this descriptive.
Hebrews 10:38 “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
If we aren’t striving to please people, could we be focused more on pleasing God?
I think it’s important to remind ourselves, pleasing others is different than loving others. If I share the gospel with an atheist I guarantee you they are often not all too pleased. I could say no to helping someone commit a crime or falsify a report and displease others. There are multiple ways to aggravate others and for those who are more assertive, the opportunities are endless.
A common descriptive of assertive people is the behavior pattern of a type-A person.
Type A individuals tend to be very competitive and self-critical. They strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments. Interrelated with this is the presence of a significant life imbalance. This is characterized by a high work involvement. Type A individuals are easily ‘wound up’ and tend to overreact. They also tend to have high blood pressure (hypertension).
Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock. Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.
Can you see why assertive or type-A people are often regarded as mean people? They tend to be easily aroused to anger or hostility, which they may or may not express overtly. Such individuals tend to see the worse in others, displaying anger, envy and a lack of compassion.
I tend to lean toward a type-A behavior while my wife is clearly a people pleaser. I often wonder how the Lord brought us together and how we have stayed together for that matter. The common characteristic that binds us together is our faith in Christ.
How does a people pleaser and a type-A person find commonality within their faith?
Romans 14:7-9 “For none of us lives to himself alone, and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this reason Christ died and returned to life, that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.”
Whatever personality you have, we are all called to walk by faith. The call of the gospel is a process of submission to Christ, laying our weaknesses at the cross and allowing the Spirit of God to form us into His image.
1 Peter 2:5 “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The descriptives for people pleasers and assertive type-a people can feel a bit ugly, and left to their own vices, people with these traits can feel like they are broken when left to a sinful nature that rules in their hearts.
To be counted among the just or the righteous is a status that reflects the presence of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
The beauty of a believer is how God takes different people and conforms them to His image. He doesn’t change people’s personalities, He changes their hearts. This change that occurs begins with faith.
- It is by faith a man or woman is justified.
- It is by faith people can please God.
Hebrews 11:6 “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.”
A people pleaser who is filled with the Spirit can now go from being concerned about how people feel about them, and more about how God is pleased with them. When a person is justified, they are made perfect in righteousness. This perfection is achieved through the redeeming grace of Christ.
A people pleaser can move from trying to make people happy to loving others the way Christ loves them. Love looks different in action.
What seems like niceness one moment, is an expression of Christ-like love the next. The difference between being nice and loving someone from the heart is the source. Godly love comes from Christ in you.
1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God, he who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Godly love moves a people pleaser from worrying someone might get offended by the gospel, to understanding how much others need the gospel of Jesus in their life. They might go about sharing the gospel in a way that is different than a very assertive person, and that’s just fine…the Lord can use anyone with a willing heart.
The assertive type-a person generally steps on people’s toes…a lot. They don’t realize how often they make people pleasers uncomfortable and yet they too can serve in God’s Kingdom.
Do you think Paul was assertive or a people pleaser?
Acts 28:30-31 “Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”
Paul was definitely assertive. He confronted the false ideologies of the world and wasn’t concerned about offending the hypocrite or idolator. Paul also made every effort to relate to people where they were in their lives and cultures.
Whether your one personality or the other is of little concern, if we stop trying to be like everyone else and just serve God where He has us, we will find the fruit of our faith.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
The growth and maturity of a follower of Christ is found in their walk. The Spirit of God uses each person where they’re at and leads them in obedience to the Son. It is through this obedience people grow, mature, and draw nearer to the Lord each day.
If we allow the love of God to be expressed in our lives, we will find the Lord amplifying our personalities in conjunction with His perfect will, then we will see how good and faithful He really is.