Romans, Day 4

Scripture: Romans 2:17-29

Observation: Paul warns the Jewish people not to take pride in their own ability to know and teach the law. He again focuses on the value of obeying the law rather than simply knowing the law. He finishes by telling them the most important thing isn’t what they know or what others think of them, but rather whether or not their heart is right with God.

Application: I have a disease.

It’s a disease I’ve had since as early as I can remember. I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember being affected when I was just in preschool circa 1994 and religiously completed all of my letter exercises in the same color crayon my teacher used because I wanted to please her. (And yes, alternative/more accurate phrases for “I wanted to please her” include “suck up” and “brown noser.”)

My disease is fairly common. It’s called a case of being a people-pleaser. Maybe you can relate. Here are common phrases that categorize people-pleasers:

  • “I just want other people to like me.”
  • “I hate telling people no."
  • “I’m happy when everyone else is happy.”
  • “I’m sorry.” (This one applies to everything – from accidentally dropping someone’s pen to telling someone you’re unavailable for a lunch date. You are sorry ALLTHETIME for ALLTHETHINGS.)

So, go ahead and raise your hand if you’re a people-pleaser, recovering people-pleaser, were once a people-pleaser and now pretend to be recovered but you’re not really, or if you’ve ever in your life wanted someone else to like you. My hand is up (and if you’re not a liar, then I know yours is, too).

Wanting other people to like us is human nature. We’re designed to crave safety and acceptance.

So while this desire is in our human nature, it’s also pretty destructive. (Not to mention exhausting.) It can so easily distract us from what really matters in life. When we put our faith in Jesus, what other people say or think about us no longer matters. As a recovering people-pleaser, what Paul tells the Jewish people in verse 29 is my new life motto:

“And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

How many of you needed to hear that today? I did. Paul tells them stop worrying about what other people think. Worry instead about what God thinks about you. Stop trying to please others. Simply focus on serving the God who created you, who loves you, who already believes you are amazing.

So, what are you trying to do right now to get others to like you, accept you, support you? More importantly, what are trying to do right now to get others to accept you that interferes with or threatens your relationship with God? What’s going on in your heart? Is it more focused on God or more on the opinions of others?

Here’s my encouragement to you today: Let yourself off the hook. Stop worrying about what your mom, friend, daughter, brother, aunt, co-worker, frenemy, or that person you met one time thinks about you. Don’t let that define you. Let your Father in Heaven define you. This God tells us in Psalm 139 that each one of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He made us, and he thinks we’re incredible because of who we are, not because of who others say we are. Our worth isn’t dependent on what other people think about us. Our worth is in the saving hope, power, and grace of Christ Jesus. (Can I get an amen?!)

Whoever you are and whatever you do, you are worth it. I promise.

Prayer: God, it’s so easy to become focused on what other people think about us, to so quickly become tied up in their opinions of who I am and what I do. But, God, I pray that you’ll help me push that all aside to focus on one thing: you. I pray my worth and my identity will come from who you are, not who others say I am. Amen.