Written By Grace Chan, Originally Written in Traditional Chinese
A pastor I know once made this witty remark, “If you don’t fear God, you have to fear a lot; if you don’t please God, you have to please a lot.” Having personally experienced the truth of his statements, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, more often than not, we please those whom we fear.
I grew up as a “daddy’s girl”, and would follow every instruction from my parents as well as people of their generation without question. I was the “good girl” of the family and was adored by whomever I met. This, however, led to me feeling much social pressure as I grew up. I felt like I needed to meet the expectation of every person and to please everybody. And I believed this was the only way I could be accepted and loved by all.
It was in college in Taiwan that I really started to find it challenging to keep up with my desire to please people. It was extremely difficult to say “no” to invitations from seniors to take part in activities, even though I really did not want to attend any of them. I was worried that they would be disappointed if I turned them down, or they were so nice to me that I felt guilty for declining their invitations. As a result, I started to lose sight of who I really was—I was so busy trying to please others and meet their expectations that I started to feel increasingly empty, tired, and unhappy.
Later on, I realized that everyone has different standards, so it would be impossible to meet every person’s expectations. When we try to live according to people’s opinions for fear of being rejected, we place ourselves under tremendous pressure. The Bible teaches us to focus on God instead of the opinions of others, and to live for Him instead of people (Galatians 1:10). And Proverbs 29:25 tells us, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Abraham is an example. His fear of the Pharaoh of Egypt almost led to him placing his own wife in another man’s arms. Thankfully, God intervened on his behalf. When we fear God instead of man, He provides us the strength to resist pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations, or to do things that are not biblical. Even though we might suffer a little while, I believe that those who fear the Lord would eventually reap an abundant and peaceful life.
May all of us be encouraged to say “no” when it’s time to say so.