As an admitted people pleaser, I am well aware of my patterns of withholding and withdrawal that kick in because I do not want to offend people and cause conflict.
This is only a problem about 90 percent of the time. (The rest of the time I am alone.)
So when I see people-pleasing patterns in Scripture, I lean in for another lesson, hoping to inch closer to freedom that doesn’t call for me to become an eremite.
Today, I was reading about a conversation that Jesus had with the Pharisees, recorded in Matthew 15. And right there in Scripture was another example of people pleasing, found in the disciples’ response to Jesus in regard to this little exchange.
In this confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, the Pharisees had tracked Jesus down to ask Him why His disciples break tradition by not washing their hands before they eat (v. 2). Jesus quickly turns the focus back upon the Pharisees, asking why they transgress the commandment of God for the sake of the tradition (v. 3). Jesus then accuses them of neglecting the care of their parents, calls them hypocrites, and labels their worship as vain (vv. 4–9). There is no rebuttal recorded. What would one say to that anyhow?
The disciples listened to all this, then felt the need to clue Jesus in on how this little scene looked from their perspective. It seems the disciples wonder if Jesus meant to deliver such a scathing rebuke . . . perhaps Jesus didn’t realize the intensity of His own words? A timid question is raised to Jesus:
“Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”
Did Jesus laugh at this question?
When I read the disciples’ question, I could hardly stop giggling. Sarcastic wit laced all my thoughts: Seriously? The Pharisees were offended? I can’t imagine why!
Did Jesus know that He had offended the Pharisees? Yes, I’m sure He did. Jesus was not a people pleaser; He did everything to please the Father. Knowing these words flow from love makes all the difference though. Jesus did not offend for the sake of offending; He struck a mean blow to pop the bubble of pride and self-righteousness that separated the Pharisees from God.
Well, I can laugh at the disciples’ concern today, 2,000 years past the confrontation. But I must admit that if I were among the disciples at that moment, I would have been the first to worry that Jesus had offended the Pharisees.
It seems Jesus, however, was more upset that the Pharisees had offended the Father and misled the people.
This is the passion for God’s glory that I long for; I think it would render my people-pleasing ways void. What freedom that would be!