Thoughts by CARadke on
Devotions for the Man in the Mirror
by Patrick Morley

21. Approval: Man-Pleasers and God-Pleasers

Today Morley explores our motivations to please people or God. If they are presented this clearly, the "right" motivation is obvious. We should please God. But it is not always quite this clear. For example, we are frequently given opportunities to participate in the ministries of the church. Why do we participate? Are we serving God, or are we doing something else? Are we seeking approval of another church member? Are we disappointed if our names are left off of the list of participants? What is really driving us to participate?

On the other hand, why do we decline? Are we answering a call to serve God elsewhere, or are we quenching the Spirit's calling? It isn't always easy to sort out our own motivations, so how do we do it? Maybe an analogy can help.

Most of us have children who have had to deal with peer pressure. We try to help our children associate with "good" friends so that peer pressure will be a positive influence in their lives, but things just don't always work that way. Sometimes our children know the right thing to do, but peer pressure is pulling them in a different direction. They feel the conflict and it upsets them.

As parents we want our children to do the right thing, but we also know that they will have to deal with their peers. We reaffirm their sense of right and wrong, encourage them to do the right thing, and try to help them understand how to deal with other children who might call names or do other things to put them down. We know that they may face difficult times for a while, but in the end we hope that it will become a good experience that builds their character.

When we have to make decisions about our day to day ministry, whether at the church, in the work place, at home, or elsewhere, God is our loving parent. Sometimes we feel a conflict between the things that we believe we should do and the things that others want us to do. God is there to counsel and guide us. He reaffirms what is good. He encourages us to do the right thing. He helps us understand how to deal with peer pressure. If we listen, the experience strengthens our relationship with God.

How can we receive this wonderful counsel from God? Prayer. Daily prayer. Continuous prayer. A life of prayer. Through prayer we can lay our struggles and conflicts before God and He will help us.

It doesn't mean that every decision will be easy. Christ prayed fervently to avoid the cup of suffering that waited for Him, but ultimately there was only one right decision. His own disciples exerted peer pressure to resist the cup, but Christ surrendered Himself to God's calling.

There is a right decision for each of us, too. Our peers may push in another direction but we must surrender ourselves to God's calling. If we don't do that, how can we be Christ-like? How can we be Christian?

Please God. Whether or not it pleases others, please God.

Dear Lord, thank you for calling us to serve you. Thank you so much for giving us the Holy Spirit to counsel us in paths of righteousness. This is my prayer Lord, that I might always listen to your counsel and seek to please you. Amen.

Grace and peace--

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