“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10
This scripture has been my lifeblood. And as sure as the day is long, the minute I grab hold of it and run with it…the sooner the enemy tries to take it away. And it’s almost always in the form of someone who hasn’t grasped it for themselves yet.
Always an expectation.
Always an attempted guilt trip.
Always acting as if, “You did something to upset me, so now I’m going to pout until you get a clue.”
What this is is another form of manipulation, what this is is an attempt to control another person. We cannot expect people to read our minds any more than we can be expected to read someone else’s mind. Unless of course, you have the gift of prophecy or discernment of spirits which is whole other blog topic for a rainy day. And even then, God is going to use those gifts to glorify Himself, not to glorify the needs of the person He’s gifted.
So, how do we avoid misunderstandings, misconceptions, mis-, mis-, MISS? (And by the way, do you see a theme here? Both of those words start with “mis”…we are “missing” the mark!
God gave us the gift of communication to avoid all of this. God even says we can approach Him with all kinds of petitions and requests (Ref. Ephesians 6:18). Look at Job. He was extreeeeemely unhappy with his situation and he let God know it!
If God Himself is approachable in this way…who isn’t?? Why do we get so up in arms when we have an issue with someone and need to talk about it with them like they’re going to spew hellfire at us or something?…Well, some are pretty good at spitting venom, but that’s not my point…
God Himself tells us to talk to him about everything…everything! It’s not like we can hide ourselves from Him anyway. He knows all, sees all. The point of the talking to Him about something He already knows is simple…relationship. Just in the same way you’d want a person who is important to you in some way, shape, or form to talk to you about a heart issue for the sake of the relationship, friendship, sisterhood, brotherhood, etc…so does He.
And you know what the most exciting part about that is?! If He wants that deep of a level of intimacy with us…that means He’s going to have the grace to handle it!
So, if God is loving, kind, merciful, graceful and warm, no matter what we throw at Him…what in the heck gives us the right to act like we have right to hold something over someone else’s head like they “owe” us and we deserve it? Guess what? They don’t! And we don’t!
We have absolutely no right to withhold grace from someone, when God never withheld it from us. And, I’m not talking about just letting everybody and everybody in. I’m talking about the heart posture and attitude towards the one who you think offended you. There is always a way to speak the truth in love, even when it isn’t warm and fuzzy. So, this person did this thing to you and now they don’t deserve your grace? Guess what! Neither do I!
I don’t deserve the grace that Jesus gave me when he allowed himself to be nailed to the cross for the sake of my sin and many others that he never committed. I don’t deserve the many mercies and “outs” God gives me on a daily basis. I don’t deserve to be forgiven when I know should be held accountable.
Maybe the problem isn’t so much what someone else did to us, as it is that we think no one else is immune to consequence, but us. We forget what God did, does, and WILL DO for us everyday.
Again, RELATIONSHIP. The closer we get to God, the more we realize, we don’t have it all together as much as we’d like to think we do. The deeper we go with Him, the more aware we are of our mistakes…and even more aware of his grace and mercy because we know when we are in the wrong and don’t deserve it. Ultimately, this should lead us to apply that in our relationships with other people.
It’s like the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor (ref. Matthew 18:21-35)…a king forgave a servant who owed him millions of dollars, and was about to sell the servant along with his posessions and entire family to pay the debt. The slave begged for the king to be patient and the king ended up wiping the slate clean and letting hin go, no questions asked.
You’d think he’d be happy, right? Not so…the minute the servant saw someone who owed him only a few thousand, he assaulted him and had him thrown into jail. Long story short, he was found out for his lack of grace and ended up being thrown into prison himself and tortured until he could pay his entire debt. If that ain’t enough to scare the pride right out of us, I don’t want to be around to see when God busts out the big guns for the sake of humility!
My point in all of this is if we have an issue with a person, we need to tell them (“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1). Expecting people to read our minds or just “get it” is extremely immature.
I don’t know about you, but I am so over jumping from one foot to the next trying to figure out what is wrong with someone, when I feel that cold shoulder. It’s tiring and annoying and life is stressful enough without added drama. It may seem harsh, but for my own sanity and spiritual, mental, and physical health, anyone who attempts this will quickly find themselves waaaaaay over here (arm waving to the right) and I’ll be waaaaay over here (arm waving to the left). I’d rather spend my time pouring into the people who are interested in glorifying God with our time spent together in discussion, even if it’s spent in conflict resolution. It’s a waste of time catering to people who desire attention, but no real desire to strengthen the bond or grow spiritually.
God holds us accountable for how we spend our time. If we are too mentally exhausted to meet a need that would have been glorifying to God because we wasted time people pleasing our energy into oblivion, He’s going to ask us why we entertained it in the first place.
Step away from trying to please everybody…truth is, you can’t. And trying to meet the needs of people who expect way more than they should or that you can give will make you pretty darn sick pretty darn fast. This may seem harsh, but reality is reality. And the truth is that most of our exhaustion comes from simply not realizing we have the right to step away from certain situations and that God will cover us, no matter who is over us or what that situation may be. The key is to listen and let Him direct us.
Do I have this perfected? Heck no, it’s a journey…but I can’t help but notice a significantly lighter burden when I have my eyes turned to something that is fruitful as opposed to something that is fruitless.