Rom 15:3 says, “For even Christ pleased not himself.” In order for Christ to please his Father, he could not please himself. In the garden of Gethsemane, for instance, it would have pleased Jesus if he could have avoided bearing our sins in his own body on the tree [1 Pet 2:24]. So, he prayed for the cup to pass from him. Yet, he also prayed not for his will but for his Father’s will to be done. And because “it pleased the Lord to bruise him,” [Is 53:10], Jesus submitted to his Father and chose not to please himself.
We must learn from this that there are certain people who don’t please God because they are too busy pleasing someone or something else.
People who don’t please God are:
Self pleasers – Rom 15:3 – Christ pleased not himself. He only pleased God [Matt 3:17, 17:5]. In Jn 8:29, he said, “I do always those things that please him.” Therefore, we can’t please God and do what we want. But I have found something to be very true in my life and in the lives of other Christians who are seeking to please God. We have found our greatest satisfaction in pleasing God. Pleasing God is much more gratifying than pleasing yourself. If it were not so, Jesus would not have established this pattern for us to follow [1 Pet 2:21].
Flesh pleasers – Rom 8:8 – so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. This generation is a flesh pleasing generation [2 Tim 3:1-4]. You must understand that “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” [Gal 5:17]. It is impossible to serve your flesh and serve God at the same time. The things that God wants for you are contrary to the things that the flesh wants for you. And the things that God wants for you are far better than the things that the flesh wants for you. This statement is absolutely true.
People pleasers – Gal 1:10. Paul said, “if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” You cannot please men and God at the same time. If you are a man pleaser, you are not a God pleaser. The harder you try pleasing men, the less pleasing you are to God, even if you are doing something which pleases God. He knows you’re doing what you’re doing to impress men. And, therefore, God is not impressed. Jesus taught his disciples not to make a show out of giving, praying, and fasting [Matt 6:1-18]. He said that when you do these kinds of things to be seen of men, God will not reward you because you already have your reward.
Keep in mind that when you are pleasing God, you may also find yourself in favor with men. That doesn’t mean you are a man pleaser, if your motive for doing what you do is pleasing to God. For example, when you please others to their edification [1 Cor 10:33; Rom 15:2], and when you please your spouse [1 Cor 7:33-34], for the Lord’s sake, you are pleasing God.
Conclusion: You must fight the temptation to please yourself, your flesh and other people. Pleasing God means that you will deny yourself [Mk 8:34], deny your flesh [1 Cor 9:27], and deny your opportunity to please men [1 Thes 2:4].
To view the previous message in this two-part series, see People Who Please God.