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Pleasing or Appeasing?

By Pastor Craig E. Brown

All of us, at one time or another, have chosen to “appease” someone rather than to “please” them.   Whether it was a parent, sibling, spouse, or supervisor, we knew exactly what to do or say to just “get by” and escape their wrath or satisfy an immediate need, only for a short period of time. 

As a child, I remember rushing home from school to make my bed, throw my clothes into the closet, half do my homework, and maybe take out the trash in order to appease my mother whenever she would call from work to check on my siblings and me.  Once I appeased her with my “just enough” answers, I would ask permission to go outside and play.  All kids played outside back in the day and time that I was raised.  To be indoors was like a punishment.  And, we would to stay outdoors as long as we could – usually until the street lights came on.

Now, if I really wanted to “please” my mother and father, I would have not only given the appearance of a made up room, but I would have put my clothes in their proper places, the closet would have been neat and organized, the trash taken out (and I would have picked the leaves and other debris), the driveway and sidewalks hosed down, I would have practiced my music for thirty minutes (minimum), washed the dishes…you get the picture.

The same holds true in our service to God.  Most of the time, many people “appease” God instead of “pleasing” God.  You know the drill – they go to church once a week for maybe 2 hours max, and whenever they do get to church, they usually arrive late.  They might stand during praise and worship and then again, they may just sit and look around to see who’s wearing the latest fashions.  When the minister is speaking, they might stay awake but then again, they might find themselves yawning and checking their watches or looking at their cell phone [again] to read the latest text message or to check the status of their favorite team.  And when it’s time for the offering – please!  After all, who wants to listen to the pastor encourage cheerful and bountiful giving or speak more on stewardship (or the budget) because the church needs to pay its obligations?  They have already made up in their mind that they are going to give God their “leftover” offering – their spare change (like Cain’s offering to God).

In Psalm 119, the writer desires so much to please God that he asks the question in Psalm 119:9,

“How can a young man cleanse his way?”

 The answer follows: “By taking heed according to Your [God’s] word” and seeking God with his whole heart and not wandering from God’s commandments (vs. 10).  In fact, throughout this particular division of  Psalms, the writer continually expresses his longing to stay with the statutes (boundaries) and obey the law, precepts, and commandments of God.  In Psalm 119: 37, the writer asks God to turn away his eyes from looking at “worthless things” and revive him to the ways of God.  Simply speaking – he wants to “please” God, not “appease” God.  Solomon said, “If a man’s ways “please” (emphasis mine) the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 (NKJV).

I know it is easier for us to just appease God rather that please God.  Pleasing God takes work and commitment.  It means making sacrifices.  For some of us, it means repenting and becoming as meek as one can be.  In some cases, pleasing God requires us to “turn the other cheek” or to stand down our position, even when we know we’re right (say “amen,” husbands.  And you, too, wives.)  And, what about just keeping quiet (keeping our mouth closed) and letting the Lord fight our battles.  Most of us really struggle in that particular area and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to have full reign in our life

Perhaps you’re appeasing God in your prayer life and devotion to Him.  Maybe you have not been pleasing in your stewardship.  Instead of sharing the good news of the Gospel with a co-worker, you only gave a watered-down testimony and hoped that God was pleased with you being a witness for Him.  We’ve all have done it at one time or another but today – right now – won’t you make a commitment to please God in every area of your life?  Why not start by attending church and asking the pastor where you can be of service to the body of Christ.  I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed and God will be “please” and not “appeased”.