By Lisa Huddleston
“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:51, NIV)
“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Prov. 29:25, MSG)
In just a few short months, my family will be deeply involved in the weddings of my daughter (June) and my son (July). Who am I kidding? We are already up to our necks in the planning of these events. Details concerning caterers, style, invitations, and clothing have kept us pretty busy. Questions like, “Will these shoes go with this dress?”, “Will this color stand out too much?”, and “Will the other girls like the dresses they are wearing?” have dominated our conversations. These and other more stressful issues regarding what others will think have reminded me once again how dependent many of us are on the good opinion of others.
There have been times in my life when I’ve radically declared, “I don’t care what anyone thinks!” But truth be told, I was lying. I do care. And I think most of us do to varying degrees. It’s human nature. We all crave approval at times, and most of us enjoy applause from the crowd. But when our choices reveal that we are selling out our own beliefs, we have gone too far. When we are paralyzed to move forward for fear of being criticized, we have gone too far. When we allow others to dictate our actions, we have gone too far. And when we place satisfying the crowd above satisfying God, we have definitely gone too far.
I recognize the leap I am making—from wedding details to denying God—but it may not be such a great leap after all. Every time I make a choice that dishonors who I am, who I have been created by God to be, I am putting pleasing people ahead of pleasing God. We all have some Pilate in us, and it is sometimes a short jump from insignificant choices to radically important ones.
Who are we looking to for approval? What are we doing simply to satisfy the crowd? Whose opinion do we fear most? Let’s begin to practice pleasing God—in small ways as well as in big. Trusting in God will protect us from becoming powerless “people pleasers.”