Stop Trying To Please Everyone

Here is a basic lesson in life: when you try to please everyone, you will likely end up pleasing no one. Indeed, you just end up flip-flopping and vacillating, trying to keep everyone happy, without taking a clear and principled stance on anything. I know politicians often try to go down this route, but this is certainly not how Christians should operate.

We should be firmly committed to biblical truth, and worry only about pleasing God, not pleasing man. But far too many believers tremble not at God and his Word, but at what mere man might think. That is always a recipe for disaster.

It never works. As Margaret Thatcher once put it: “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Or as Jesus put, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

men-pleaser-1So the Christian must be resolute, eager to serve and please only one person: the Lord Jesus Christ. That is as true of Christian organisations as it is of individuals. Let me begin with the former, then work to the latter. One terrific organisation over the years has had a bit of a rough go of late, in part because it seems to want to please various groups – groups often quite opposed to each other.

The Booths, the founders of the Salvation Army, were of course real sticklers for things like purity, holiness, and taking a strong stand against sin. Thus the Salvos have long affirmed biblical truths about various social issues, including homosexuality.

But of late there has been some wavering here. Let me look briefly at some recent history. Consider a November 28, 2011 headline: “Gay rights activist calls for boycott of Salvation Army Christmas fundraiser”. The article begins: “Gay rights activists who object to the Salvation Army’s biblical stance on homosexuality are launching their annual call to shut down the organization’s Christmas fundraiser.”

This piece links to another article which argues how bad the Salvos are for affirming the biblical view on homosexuality, citing cases from the US, the UK, and New Zealand.

Then consider this June 18, 2012 Australian headline: “Angry response to Salvation Army’s gay stance.” The piece begins: “Salvation Army’s declaration that homosexuality is an unacceptable urge has provoked outrage in the gay community. Gay pop star Darren Hayes called for a boycott of the high-profile charity, a call backed by pro-gay lobbyists.”

But the homosexual activists’ anger soon turned to rejoicing when the Victorian Salvos came out recently and said they fully support the radical pro-homosexual “Safe Schools” program. I wrote this up here at the time:

Then the National Salvos stepped in and effectively rebuffed the Vic Salvos, saying the program certainly needs much more investigation before it can be supported:

So the Salvos ended up displeasing everyone after trying to please everyone. At first countless Christians were outraged at the Victorian decision, while the homosexual groups were quite pleased. Then with the backdown, Christians could breathe a sigh of relief while the homosexuals were once again upset.

As an example of this, consider this incredibly bad article from yesterday: “Why I won’t be supporting the Salvation Army this Christmas”.

This is a typical MSM pro-homosexual propaganda piece. Nothing like using a dead child to score cheap political points. Emotive stories of anyone suiciding is always going to score points, but that is not how we should proceed here. Why not run with stories of children raised in homosexual households, highlighting all the grief it has caused them? And why not tell the truth about homosexual suicide rates?

Thus the attempt to keep everyone happy often ends up getting everyone quite unhappy. This goes for individuals as well. We never win when we try to please men and water down the gospel. All we do is invite the wrath of our Lord as expressed in Revelation 3:16: “Because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Joshua told us to make up our minds, and stop trying to straddle the fence: “choose you this day who you will serve” (24:15). We cannot please God while seeking to please men. Matt Walsh just had a new article on this, dealing especially with the homosexual and transgender wars.

He was replying to a pastor who said in part: “There is no tolerance, inclusiveness, or love in your writings. It’s hateful towards the LGBTQ community and others who don’t share your views about gay rights, reproductive rights or many other issues. Matt churches should be focusing on how to welcome people in, whether they happen to be gay, trans, feminist or any other group you denigrate.”

This is part of how Matt replied:

It’s not the church’s job to make us comfortable, pastor. Its job is to help to make us holy. Yes, it should welcome all. In fact it should not only welcome but actively seek those who are lost. It should venture into the world, find the wandering sheep, and guide them back into the fold. But what it cannot do, pastor, is welcome our sin.
It should welcome the penitent thief, as Christ did, but it should not and cannot welcome his thievery. Remember, only one of the thieves crucified next to Christ was invited into paradise. The one who renounced his crimes was promised Heaven. The other, who clung to his wickedness even up until the moment of death, was not offered an invitation. I wonder, if you were there on Calvary that day, would you have lectured Christ for not being sufficiently inclusive?
You say we should welcome homosexuals and “transgenders” and people who are pro-abortion and anyone else who commits one of our culture’s trendy sins, but what you really seem to mean is that we should welcome the acts of fornication, sodomy, self-mutilation, child murder, etc. These acts are “God’s design for their lives,” you say. And I’m afraid it is on this point that you stumble headfirst into heresy.
It’s true that the church should be like the father in Christ’s parable, running to greet the son who’d squandered his inheritance on booze and prostitutes, eager to embrace and forgive him. But note how the father didn’t go out, find his son at the brothel, and say, “Son, why don’t you come and fornicate and get drunk at home? No need to change your lifestyle at all. Just come home and do whatever you want. Don’t let me cramp your style, son. Here, need some more money?”
That’s because the rebellious young man had to abandon his sin, seek forgiveness, and surrender to the will of his father. Notice that when he came home he said, “I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am not worthy to be called your son.” Now notice that he did not say, “I’ve had a lot of debauched, drunken sex and I’m proud of it. In fact, I plan to get back at it tomorrow. I’m not sorry, I won’t change, and you just need to shut up and accept it, pops. By the way, I have some hookers coming over later. Please show them to my room. Thanks.”
We can be fairly sure that if the son had approached the father with that speech, he would not have been welcomed inside. There would have been no fattened calf slaughtered for a festive celebration. There would have been only grief and sadness, and, I’m guessing, a pretty stern lecture. “If you live in my home, you will follow my rules,” the father would have bellowed, just as my father said to me many times when I was a teenager.
We cannot be real and active members of the Body of Christ if we categorically refuse to walk the path Christ laid out for us. We cannot be members of the church if we do not love Christ, and we cannot love Christ if we scoff at his commandments.

Yes exactly, but far too many Christians and far too many Christian churches and organisations have thought it was their job to please people, to make them feel good about themselves, to make them feel accepted in their sin and rebellion. Sorry, it just does not work that way.

When we seek to please Christ and run faithfully with God’s Word, then we are guaranteed to upset people, to make them uncomfortable, and to make them angry. That was true of Jesus, that was true of the disciples, and that is true of every real Christian who takes seriously the task of proclaiming biblical truth.

So it is time we gave up this foolish and vain attempt to please everyone and keep everyone happy. It just will not work. And the Christian is never called to do this anyway. He is called to please God and him alone. Let me conclude with a few relevant quotes on this:

“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” Leonard Ravenhill

“The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” A.W. Tozer

?”Better to confess Christ a thousand times now and be despised by people, than be disowned by Christ before God on the day of Judgment.” J.C. Ryle

“I claim the holy right to disappoint men in order to avoid disappointing God.” A.W. Tozer

[1650 words]

14 Replies to “Stop Trying To Please Everyone”

  1. This IS important, Bill. Thanks. Matt Walsh’s response was well worth reading.

  2. What an extraordinarily ignorant man Andrew P Street is. If a thief committed suicide does that mean we should implement programs to promote theft? How does a thirteen year old know they are homosexual unless something very wrong has happened in their life anyway. By law they should not have been involved in sex but if we implement the programs he advocates all that will happen is more children will be caught up in things that will inevitably make them miserable. Does he really think the countless generations that went before were so ignorant they did not see this? Every year far too many children commit suicide so you could use his selective process to justify almost anything. Suicide inevitably has to do with people not being able to see a future for themselves which is the opposite of what Christianity supplies but sinful actions will inevitably lead to misery and then often to suicide. As Jesus said people who involve themselves in fornication defile themselves. This is precisely why the study that looked at suicide rates in Sweden found that redefining marriage and putting pro-homosexual programs into place has had very little effect. The rate of homosexual suicides there is still 2.7 times that of heterosexuals. If these people would actually look at the data instead of being so full of their own opinions maybe we could come up with answers but promoting more homosexuality at increasingly younger ages is definitely not the answer to childhood suicide.

  3. Thank you Bill.
    Lately, I’ve come to see, that I’ve been a people pleaser for much of my life! And it’s only as I get to know God more, through Jesus Christ, that I’m realising this. We all have such a strong desire to belong. The more my belonging is wrapped up in who I belong to as a Christian….God , I’m finding my allegiance to Him is growing. But there is a real tug of war some days!

  4. Absolutely true. I am a member of the Salvation Army and was appalled by their recent support for the Safe Schools Program. I am equally perplexed by their backflip in such a short space of time. I fear that their decision would be a fiscal one and not scriptural because if they used God’s divine word in the first place they would not be in this position. I have just sent a 10 page letter to the General of the Salvation Army in London and the same one to the leader in Australia addressing this abomination. What sort of “Christians” are in charge? Frightening when you think about it. I have been blocked from 2 Salvation Army Facebook sites relating to my stance. Keep up the good work.

  5. I have stopped trying to please everyone at church a long time ago… worked out so much better that way. You also notice wolves in church being more exposed.

  6. Bill
    Excellent article. Who can prove the Safe Schools program would have prevented this suicide? Andrew Street is completely disgraceful using a tragic death to argue a pathetic position.
    I see parallels with Bolt’s article on the wishy washy position of PM Turnbull on climate change – Daily telegraph yesterday. No one knows where Turnbull stands. If it backfires he blames his ministers.
    Salvos have lost my respect. Tragic situation – shame on the management.
    Happy Christmas Bill

  7. Thank you for this article Bill. I agree, we are meant to love others even if this means displeasing them. In loving unrepentant sinners, we are trying to lovingly bring them to repentance and into relationship with God which may not feel very pleasing to them at all. I don’t think it is wrong to feel sad at offending someone, but we have to be courageous and do the right thing anyway. If we do this and are hated, we can be comforted that it is not personal; the hatred is really towards God.
    I like the following verse, Jude 23, which explains we must do this while hating the sin: “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives”.
    I also like the description by Solomon at the end of Ecclesiastes (12:11) where he explains the value and pain that comes with hearing Godly wisdom: “The words of the wise are like cattle prods – painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.”
    I also really like the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:8-9 when he talks about the value of being severe with his rebuke of the Corinthian church,”I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.”

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