The words by poet John Lydgate were made famous by President Abraham Lincoln, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time.” I admit I struggle with the desire to please people. I want people to be happy with me. I suppose this was appreciated by my teachers, coaches, and drill sergeants as I worked to meet their expectations, and it has probably benefited my professional career at times. However, this can also be a curse. Isaiah 2:22 says, “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?”
The Gospel of John records a story that clearly illustrates this truth (John 12:27-43). Jesus spoke to a multitude of people. He predicted His death and invited people to believe in Him for their salvation. God, the Father, spoke audibly among the people and confirmed the deity of Christ. There were at least three different responses to Jesus. Some refused to believe in Jesus. Others believed in Jesus, but they were afraid to let anyone know. They feared negative consequences from the Pharisees, and they kept their faith a secret for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God (John 12:43).
It is sad when God’s people fear men more than God. God is our Creator and Father. God is our ultimate judge. Wouldn’t we want to please Him? Shouldn’t His opinion matter most? And yet we allow ourselves to seek temporary approval of fickle men rather than the pleasure of God.
I pray you will not have to choose between God and the loved ones in your life. But when you do find yourself in that situation, I pray you will gladly choose to honor God. May the Lord be pleased in your hunger for Him and your obedience to Him.