May 2021

From The Pastor's Heart

As Christians we have only one Master, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ.

By Charles F. Stanley

In my many years of preaching, people would often tell me they hadn’t realized something was a problem for them until they heard the questions asked during a sermon. Sometimes, thought patterns that are causing difficulty are hard to see for ourselves. But looking at their effects, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit, can show us areas where we’re struggling.

I invite you to consider these questions today: Do you feel overwhelmed by the stress of impossible goals? Burdened with guilt over falling short of others’ expectations? What about your own unreasonable demands? Answering yes to these questions could reveal a form of false thinking that leads to feeling trapped.

Whether we’re trying to satisfy a spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, or boss, being a people pleaser can lead to a defeated and unhappy life. We’ll eventually fall short of someone’s standards and feel like a disappointment. To make matters worse, sometimes the one we’re trying to please is ourselves. When we fail to live up to our own expectations, we berate ourselves. Before long we settle into a pattern of renewed commitment to do better, followed by self-determined effort, then failure, self-condemnation, and feelings of worthlessness. This is not what God wants for us!

Whether we’re trying to satisfy a spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, or boss, being a people pleaser can lead to a defeated and unhappy life. We’ll eventually fall short of someone’s standards and feel like a disappointment. To make matters worse, sometimes the one we’re trying to please is ourselves. When we fail to live up to our own expectations, we berate ourselves. Before long we settle into a pattern of renewed commitment to do better, followed by self-determined effort, then failure, self-condemnation, and feelings of worthlessness. This is not what God wants for us!

As Christians we have only one Master, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the one we are to please, not begrudgingly, but out of love and gratitude for our salvation (Col. 1:10). When we let others—including ourselves—dictate the course of our lives, we’re seeking to please two masters, and that never works (Matt. 6:24). In fact, double-mindedness leads to instablity in all our ways (James 1:8).

If we start trying to please people instead of God, we’ll lose our liberty. Stability and freedom only come when we rest our identity in Christ and seek to obey Him. That’s why, when the Galatian church was misled by Judaizers, Paul said, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Any yoke other than the Lord’s is burdensome, but Jesus’ yoke is easy and gives rest for our souls (Matt. 11:28-30).

Are you feeling defeated and weighed down by life? If so, you may be carrying a load that someone else put on you. Or maybe it’s your own standards that are weighing you down. There is a sense of freedom and rest that comes with walking in God’s grace. Each day you must choose to believe God and His Word instead of trusting in yourself or living under someone else’s yoke of expectations.

Secondly, if we try to please people, our success in the Christian life will be hindered. Paul compared the Galatians’ situation with a race, saying, “You were running well: who hin- dered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you” (Gal. 5:7-8). The word “hinder” means “to cut into.” This often occurred in the Greek Olympic Games when a runner cut into his opponent’s lane and knocked him off course.

And that’s what happens to us whenever we let others dictate how we should live the Christian life. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to and learn from fellow believers. Other Christians are often the best earthly help we have for spotting our mistakes and having the courage to fix them. But if they’re not guiding us according to God’s Word, they’ll lead us astray and knock us off God’s path. Christians can’t afford to be undiscerning about all the advice they’re given. That’s why it’s vital we know what God’s Word says. Then we’ll be able to recognize if someone is speaking truth or error.

Third, people-pleasing is harmful to the church. Paul warned, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Gal. 5:9). When Christians count man-made church rules as more binding than scriptural truth, this faulty attitude soon infects others. Before long, believers start judging each other based on adherence to human standards rather than God’s. Respect for church leadership is important (Heb. 13:17). But it must be combined with the help of the Holy Spirit to discern whether rules are founded in true godliness.

Those who are truly spiritually mature will walk in the Spirit on the path of God’s grace. Their security in Christ gives them the confidence to face each day with joy, knowing that He is transforming, guiding, and protecting them. But those who try to live by man-made rules, self-imposed standards, or the expectations of others end up feeling tired and defeated.

Are you living in the freedom of God’s grace, or are you constantly wondering what others are thinking about you or how you measure up in their eyes? A walk of grace focuses on the Lord and all He has promised to do in and through you. Believe what He says in His Word and trust Him to meet your needs and guide you through life.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. I’d like to wish all the moms a Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at In Touch Ministries. We understand what an awesome responsibility God has given you in raising and shaping the next generation. Thank you for your faithful service to your families and to the Lord.


10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.

9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

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