By Rev Tan Eng Boo
The Lord desires that we please Him
The aim of every Christian is to live a life that pleases God. That should always be our objective. When I was a young pastor, I was trying to please as many people as I could. It wasn’t a good experience and was also tough to do so. Later on in my pastorate, I came across a book “When People are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Co-dependency, and the Fear of Man” by Edward T. Welch (1997), and I was overwhelmed by it. There is a section of the book which impacted me, when Welch says:
“Of course, the ‘fear of man’ goes by other names. When we are in our teens, it is called ‘peer pressure.’ When we are older it is called ‘people-pleasing.’ Recently, it has been called 'co-dependency.’ (Pg. 14)
If I live by the “fear of man,” I can’t please God. I will always seek to please man. I will be under that bondage and it will be detrimental in my ministry or, for you, in your profession. Solomon says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe” (Prov. 29:25).
My aim in life is to please God
Why should I fear man? The apostle Paul tells us that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), and that means we must give an account to God for what we have done in the body, whether good or bad. If that is so, I want to please God in my life, as stand to be judged by Him alone and not anyone else. This is not to say that we are not accountable to one another while we are in this world, but God is my ultimate Judge and I must please Him in my life as Pauls says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Cor. 5:9).
Mark A. Seifrid says:
“To Paul, it was his ambition to please God, and it includes the expectation of having to appear before Him in judgment as Paul makes it clear in the following verse (2 Cor. 5:10). It is important for us to understand that Paul does not describe himself as seeking to please God by his works. His ambition is greater and deeper. He seeks to be pleasing to the Lord…. Paul seeks to be what God has made him to be in Christ. He walked by faith, not by appearance” (“The Second Letter to the Corinthians” pg. 235).
How can I live a life that pleases God?
Pleasing God is a choice that the Lord wants us to make throughout our life. What does that look like? In the bible, we see the example of how Enoch live his life for the Lord and walked by faith!
“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 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” (Heb. 11:5, 6).
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:21-24).
In other words, Enoch lived his life of faith in God and was a loyal follower of God. In those days, while people walked their own way and rejected the way of God, Enoch walked with God. His faith was steadfast in the Lord. He was not a man-pleaser and did not fear man. We need to live a life pleasing to the Lord and to walk with Him faithfully. How can I do so to walk faithfully with the Lord? Let the word of the Lord dwell in your heart richly because we are told, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Our lives must be saturated with Scripture.
Do not be a man-pleaser. I have come a long way, being a pastor for over 40 years. I have one aim in my life that is similar to what I have written. That aim is: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
“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” (Gal. 1:10)
Rev Tan Eng Boo