Trying to please everyone is an absolutely miserable way to live, right? You’re constantly paranoid about what people are thinking, whether you’re doing enough, whether you are measuring up.
The simple fact is, you will NEVER be good enough for people. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much effort you put in, you won’t be good enough to meet the expectations and desires of other people.
You won’t be spiritual enough.
Your kids won’t be respectful enough.
You won’t be thin enough.
Your preaching will be too intellectual.
Your preaching won’t be intellectual enough.
You won’t have enough kids.
You’ll have too many kids.
You won’t serve on enough comittees at church or school.
You’ll serve on too many committees.
You won’t choose the right method of schooling for your kids.
Your kids will eat too much junk food.
You won’t go on enough dates with your spouse.
You won’t do enough devotional times with your kids.
You won’t have enough of the Holy Spirit.
You’ll have too much of the Holy Spirit.
And on and on and on.
Because you are sinful and you are human, people will always have a reason to criticize and judge you. You’re not God. You’re going to make all sorts of flubs and fumbles, and you’re certainly going to do your fair share of sinning.
I see this in my own life. If someone interacts with me for more than five minutes, they will have adequate reason to judge, criticize, and look down on me. It’s the nature of living in a sinful, broken world.
Trying to constantly meet the expectations and desires of others is exhausting and miserable and futile. The harder you try, the more miserable you’ll be. It’s like running on a treadmill and thinking you’ll make it around the block. It’s nonsense, futile, chasing after the wind.
Even if you get to a place where you have the respect of everyone, you then have to stay there, which is even harder than getting there in the first place. You become paranoid about slipping or sinning or making a fool of yourself. You can’t bear the thought of falling.
But here’s the good, sweet, rest-bringing news: The gospel allows you to stop striving and fighting for the respect and acceptance of other people.
Romans 8:33-34 says:
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, more than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
There is only one person who can legitimately condemn you or bring charges against you, and that is God. After all, God is the one who knows your every thought, desire, and motive. He knows the sinful thoughts and desires that course through you.
If anyone could condemn you, it is God.
But if you are in Christ, God absolutely does not condemn you or bring any charges against you! He accepts you, delights in you, treasures you, loves you, and cares for you. You are fully IN.
It doesn’t matter what others say about you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t live up to the expectations of other people. It doesn’t matter if people criticize you. You have the full, unfettered, unhinged, unqualified love of God, and that’s all you need.
You can stop trying to be everything to everybody. You can get off the exhausting treadmill of people pleasing. You can let criticisms roll off our backs. Why? Because your worth and identity and security doesn’t come from other people; it comes from God through Christ.
Your security and identity is not tied to your weight, parenting style, social group, diet, family size, or anything else. Your value doesn’t come from anyone other than God, and God has stated definitively that he values you.
The Judge of all the earth has already given his opinion of you, and it is decidedly in your favor!
Today, you can rest. When you feel the pressure to be or do or people-please, you can find your peace and identity in Christ.
So step off the treadmill and enjoy grace.