Esther 5 & 6: Don’t be People-Pleasing, be Christ-Pleasing
Read Esther 5 & Esther 6 before reading this blog.
Esther 5:9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai.
I was a People-Pleaser
I have a friend who loves to be exceptionally blunt in the areas in which I need to grow. But oftentimes, this friend doesn’t sit me down and have a talk with me, this friend will gift me a self-help book completely out of the blue. After knowing this friend for just one month, I was gifted a book titled “Free to be Me.” I never knew I had problems feeling free to be myself… then a few months later, they noticed I was a confused dater so they gave me “The Sacred Search”, then a few weeks later, for Christmas, I received a book titled “Disease to Please”. Now, I have to admit, this last book really felt like a slap in the face. Disease to Please. Gee, thanks! I immediately laughed and defended myself “I am not a people-pleaser!” My friend laughed and said “Eeeehhh…” I quickly realized my defensive reaction was indicative of my offense to even address such a problem within myself. That’s when you know you’ve got a problem, when you won’t admit it.
The beginning of this book starts off with a quiz to see how much of a people-pleaser you are, I took it really to prove my friend wrong. And here were my results (I kid you not): “Your disease to please symptoms are already moderately severe. The destructive pattern requires your immediate attention and effort to change before it grows any worse.” These results seemed to walk me to my egotistical death explaining my severe symptoms and the necessity for my immediate attention, yet I was blind to it and didn’t even know I was a people-pleaser.
I gave people a place to reign in my heart and mind that only Jesus can fill which caused anxiety. Their presumed approval and disapproval of me unknowingly became my idol thus preventing me from living in the fullness of spreading the Gospel, hindering my ability to feel fully loved, and tripping me up in my walk of discipline in obedience to His voice.
People-Pleasing is a Stumbling Block
This may be bold of me to say, but I believe one of the biggest stumbling blocks to living a full, Gospel-driven Christian life in freedom is the crutch of working to please others. Not to just be approved or avoid disapproval from your peers but to furthermore be praised and avoid conflict. Our indication of how much we are liked can now be measured by numbers, by likes, by comments, by the texts flooding our inbox. And how easy it is to enter conflict now in this day of age with social media. You post one wrong thing and suddenly you are in the midst of great fire. As women growing up in the age of social media, we have been conditioned to protect ourselves by constantly working to please others, on every medium. But to live in full obedience to His voice, you must not be people-pleasing, you must be Christ-pleasing.
Galatians 1:10 ESV “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Fear of Disapproval
Imagine if Mordecai did not hold God as the center of His affection? When the seas and winds of human disapproval tossed his foundation, he would’ve fallen, but instead he stood firm and was rewarded for his faith. Mordecai, although a servant for man in occupation, worked only to be a servant of God.
2 Timothy 2:4 puts it this way:
“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.”
Mordecai did not bow down before Haman, the most powerful of all the officials in the empire, in essence, the king's right-hand man. Mordecai would only bow down before the Lord our God, no human acceptance was worthy of His worship. By one man, Mordecai, not bowing down to Haman, a decree was sent out to annihilate all the Jewish people. As we head into chapter 5, with this murderous decree active in the land due to Mordecai’s action, Mordecai still does not bow down to Haman! His obedience in affection for God remained steadfast and I dare say this is because Mordecai deeply knew he was already loved by God, God was already pleased with him, and the only approval he sought was God’s.
Needing Everyone's Approval
Now, on the other end of people-pleasing is the terror of needing everyone's approval, let’s look at Haman. He was honored by both the King and the Queen by being invited to an exclusive banquet, so honored that he boasted about it. Yet, a lowly servant Mordecai not bowing down to him, made him feel worthless. Esther 5:13 “But this is all worth nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew just sitting there at the palace gate.”
“Haman’s deep-seated insecurities and need to be honored by everybody means that he can never be happy; God meant this hunger for acceptance in each of us to be ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ – because we are accepted....before God because of who we are in Jesus.” (David Guzik, EnduringWord Commentary). It’s so simple. We’re already accepted. We’re already chosen. We’re already approved when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Not just for this life, but for all time.
What Would Jesus Do?
What would happen if Christ was people-pleasing? First of all, His ministry of “grace through faith not by works” wouldn’t have been successful, ever. If His efforts were to please man and not to please God, He would have given an answer to Pontius Pilot when He had his chance to claim innocence, He would not have said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." He would have not been innocently persecuted by men who hated him, flogged 39 times, nailed to a cross, placing the sins of all mankind upon Him to die the worst death known to man… yet He did this all to save us that anyone who might please Him would enter eternal life. And all this happened while being cursed by man and continuing to be cursed by people even to this day. Jesus was sent from His father God on a mission from His father God, strictly obedient to the price it would cost -- His life.
Our people-pleasing pushes us into sin, into conforming to this world, into questioning God’s voice, into living for broken human beings who will never fulfill what’s meant to be a Christ-driven heart. Imagine if we all saw our people-pleasing as severe to the Gospel, a destructive pattern that requires our immediate attention and effort to change before it grows any worse.
It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. -Hebrews 11:5-6
Would you rather be praised or not be judged?
Name a time you felt the Holy Spirit stop you from committing a sin. How did your obedience to God feel?
Do you tend to people-please more than Christ please? Why do you think that is?