In our world at present, the main intention of the majority of people seems to be self-gratification. The most common default attitude today is a ‘me first’ mentality. Of course, we will help others, as long as we are taken care of before everyone else. Our line of thinking is, that if we are doing something that might cause another to stumble in their walk in life, then that is simply too bad for them. And if we happen to be strong-willed, naturally, everyone else should be likewise. Since we take care of ourself, others should look out for their own self too. Even if the other person is trapped in a disadvantage, it does not matter much to us. We argue that, if our needs are not met first, how can we possibly do anything for someone else? And so the narrative continues on.
This idea too often remains in the mindset of believers in Christ from their past, albeit in a lesser capacity. Yet nowhere in the Bible does God ever promote such a concept—in fact, He actually desires just the opposite. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to [moral improvement]. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me” (Romans 15:1-3). As Christians, we are to live to please others first, not ourselves. The Lord wants us to put the needs of our neighbor before our own.
Now this does not mean that we neglect ourselves. We are to put our focus more into helping others instead, and in leading them in the right direction spiritually. Jesus said, “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things” (Luke 12:27-30). In other words, don’t worry about pleasing and taking care of yourself all the time. Your goal should be to please God. He adds in verse 31, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When we Christians were in this world living a life without God before, we had to look out for ourselves. We frequently felt the need to please ourself more than others under the guise of survival and getting ahead. But when we accepted Jesus into our heart, we became a child of God. We entered into a relationship with Him, and one of the products of this was a newfound desire for pleasing Him. No longer will we have to figure out how to take care of ourselves or meet our own wants and interests, as we see in verse 31 above. God is our heavenly Father, and He will provide all of this for us.
If we will press forward toward more closeness with God, we will discover that He is very pleased when we decrease and allow Him to increase in our life. After Jesus overheard some of His disciples arguing among themselves about who would the greatest, He told them, “…ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Luke 22:26). When we strive to please and elevate ourselves, we reverse the role, and put God in the position of the lesser servant. We make Him into the One who is to provide us with our selfish longings.
This sinful world inevitably gravitates toward hedonistic lifestyles. This means that we seek our own happiness or pleasure as being first in our lives. But God knows that self-pleasure ultimately yields self-destruction. That is why He sent His Son, Who willingly came to the earth and made a way, through His sacrifice on the cross, to free us from this downward spiral of self-gratification. Jesus never had any interest in pleasing Himself; He only wanted to do what God His Father told Him. This brought great pleasure to both of them. If Jesus, the very Son of God, was only interested in pleasing His Father, we, as children of God, should feel the same way. Therefore, we need to seek God as the Psalmist said: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24). Let’s ask Him to reveal to us just who it is that we are really trying to please!