People Pleasers or God Pleasers

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Awaiting the New Body

1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Dear Friends in Christ,

If you ask me it seems like we see more and more people doing things just so they can get people’s approval.  This happens every year come elections.  Candidate A promises something that he has no intention on keeping but he knows he will get votes running on that platform.  This doesn’t just happen in politics but also our daily lives.  And I think we see this idea of getting people’s approval growing in recent years due to social media.  People will post things to their Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social media site they might use just so they can get a “like” or a “favorite” or a “retweet.”  The thing that breaks my heart is when it comes to this is when people post or say things that God wouldn’t approve of.  There have been times when I have asked some of the youth what would God think of what they posted.  One response I have received was, “But my friends thought it was funny.”  I’m sure that, that person is not alone in that type of mentality.  We live in a society where the most important view of ourselves comes from others.  And if we have to do something that God wouldn’t approve, that is okay as long as other people approve of it.

In our text for today, Paul tells us that our goal in life isn’t to please others but it’s to please God.  Paul said, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”  The “Him” in this verse is in reference to the Lord.  Our goal in life isn’t to please those around us, but instead it is to please Christ.  And it’s not just to please Christ at our homes or when we are out and about.  We are to make it our goal to please Him wherever we find ourselves.  It sounds like a pretty daunting task; you know to please the Savior of the world.  Honestly, it can seem a bit intimidating.  How do you please the only person to live in this world perfectly?  In order to do so we need to look at our priorities and reorganize them.  Paul calls us to get our priorities straight. To please Christ is to trust in His word of grace for us. His grace, His forgiveness, His gift of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit assures us that nothing in this world can separate us from God, and that Judgment Day will be a day of celebration for those who put their trust in Him.

Pleasing man or pleasing God why is that such a difficult choice for us to make?  I think I have an idea of why we try to please man over God.  My idea is that we can see that instant validation of our actions from other people.  When we do something that pleases God, does God come down from heaven and say, “Way to go!”?  Or does God “like” our Facebook posts when we do something that pleases Him?  I don’t think I have ever seen God come down and tell me, “Way to go!”  And I’ve never had a notification come up on Facebook that said, “God likes your post.”  But on the other hand when we do something “good” we can hear people give us compliments or maybe they laugh at our jokes.  As we post things on Facebook we can see the “likes” starting to pile up.  And there is nothing wrong with wanting those things from other people, except when it comes at the expense of what God thinks.  Does God approve of that inappropriate joke we might tell at the water cooler?  Does God want to rush out and “like” the post we shared of something He wouldn’t approve of?  We all know the answer to those questions is no.  There is no question about it, but then why do we do it?  In those moments we forget that our goal in life is to please God in whatever we do.

As we reorganize our priorities we start to trust God’s Word, we begin to not worry about gaining approval of men.  Instead we are more focused in gaining God’s approval.  Our first priority is living our life in the grace of God.  The grace of God is that undeserved promise of salvation for all those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  As Paul said in Ephesians 2, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Our salvation isn’t dependent on how many “likes” on Facebook or “retweets” or “favorites” on Twitter we get, or how many laughs we get when we tell a joke.  None of those will make a difference at the final judgment.  God isn’t going to pull up a report to see how well other people approved of you, especially when it their approval comes at inappropriate things.  Our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior is what matters.  It’s because of our faith that God has extended His grace to you and me.  And His grace is far greater than any accommodation that we can receive in this world.  As we trust in His grace through our faith we receive God’s approval.  And we will get to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  I don’t know about you but that will sound better than any “good job” we would receive in this lifetime.

It’s also important for us to remember is that God’s forgiveness extends to us.  His forgiveness is part of His grace.  Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”  These verses are all about trusting in the promises of God.  In particular His promise of forgiveness that is ours through Christ.  You don’t have to think that you have sinned so greatly that there is no way that God would ever extend His forgiveness toward you.  The forgiveness of our sins is part of the riches of His grace.  And God’s forgiveness is unique because He truly forgives and forgets.  That is unlike when we bend over backwards to earn somebody’s forgiveness just se we can have approval in their eyes.  Even though they might not ever truly forget what we have done.  When you go to God through Christ seeking His forgiveness, He will forgive and He won’t remember.  You don’t have to worry about the final judgment and wonder if God is going to bring up that “big” sin that you committed when you were 19 years old.  God’s forgiveness can remove the weight of our sins far greater than any approval we can find in this life from another person.

How is it that we are able to have trust in God’s grace and forgiveness?  Easy, it’s because of our faith in God.  It’s truly amazing what our faith in God can do.  Think about how many times in your life you had a daunting task in front of you, as you do that think about how well you would have gotten through that without your faith.  As I think about those times in my life I know that faith gave me the strength to get through those times.  I think back to my time in college when I was trying to get through Greek and Hebrew.  It was because of my faith in God and a whole lot of prayer that was able to get me through that.  And not to mention that God provided me tutors to help me get through Greek.  But I know if I trusted in my own ability I wouldn’t be where I am right now.  There is no way that I couldn’t have done it without trusting in God. That faith that I had in God during that time was because of the 20 years of having faith and seeing how God had helped me in the past.  The Holy Spirit helped my faith grow as I grew older.  And as your faith grows from the smaller things it will help you to have that faith when the task seems completely impossible.  This reminds me of a quote from Tim Tebow’s book that I will never forget he wrote, “my dad always tells us that faith is like a muscle.  You trust God for the small things and when He comes through, your muscle grows.  This enables you to trust God for the bigger things, in fact, all things.”  I like that quote a lot and it’s just a reminder of how the Holy Spirit helps our faith grow.  Our faith in all that God has done for us is far greater than seeking the approval of other people.  When you look back at the times God has been there for you, you realize the love that God has for you.  And that love makes me feel so much better than hearing the words, “Good job” from another person.

As we start to focus on these things in our life over the approval of others it will make it easy to live the life Paul speaks of in Colossians.  In chapter one of that book it says, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  When we live our life according to God’s will that’s pleasing to God.  Not only that but we will be a blessing for those around.  We won’t get so caught up in the negative things in this world, such as, getting revenge, not forgiving, showing no love, and so many of those other negative things that cause problems in our world today.  Instead of doing those things we will be focused on showing the love of God toward other people, being forgiving, and just being there for one another.  Just imagine what it would be like if we day in and day out we walked in a manner worthy of the Lord.  It would make the world a much better place.  And we aren’t doing that just so the world would be a better place but we are doing it so we can bring praise to God.  All that we say and do in this world is so that we can bring praise and glory to God’s name.  And He definitely deserves it because of His grace and forgiveness.

It’s easy in our lives to become so focused on the approval of other people.  Paul in our text for today charges us with what are goal in life is, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”  That starts by knowing that God’s grace extends to you no matter if you mess up and that His forgiveness is always there for us.  We can trust in those simple truths because of the faith that the Holy Spirit has worked in us.  It’s that faith that causes us to live a life that our actions bring praise and glory to God.  The Christian life is not a matter of rules and regulations.  It is rather a joyful response to the gospel that frees and gives life, a response that says, “Lord, I’m available.  Use me, in life and in death, in such a way that Jesus is praised.”  As we do that we will hear those words we all long to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.”