As someone who really loves people and loves to make new friends, and as someone who is a complete people pleaser and wants everyone to be happy, I am here to tell you we have got to stop loving people so much.
I know this sounds crazy. We are called to love, right?
We are called to love like Christ, but we are NOT called to love anyone or anything more than we love Christ.
Because God tells us to love our neighbor as ourself, it’s evident that loving people is one of the upmost important things we do as Christians. He even says that what we do or do not do to the least of people is what we do or do not do to Him. That means we certainly better love them, but we are getting way too caught up and putting people right up there with God where no one should or can be.
We as Christians are supposed to show people the love of Christ in words we say and things we do. But what happens when we start caring more about them than we do about our Lord?
Galatians 1:10: “For am I now seeking the favor of men or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
Servant is the boldest word in this verse to me. Whoever we are trying to please is who we become a servant of. Who we spend the most of our time on is who we care about the most. So, is that God?
Or are we striving every day to make sure everyone around us likes us? I’ll tell you right now, that’s not love of God or others, that’s love of self. Being obsessed with yourself – and that doesn’t mean you think you’re pretty or cool or awesome or hot – it means you think about yourself a lot.
Trying to make sure everyone is your biggest fan catches up with you and drives you crazy. It takes away from your relationship with God in so many ways.
You become obsessed with it, and being obsessed with anything but Christ means that thing is an idol. People in your life can be idols.
Idols aren’t just money or sexual immorality or drugs or alcohol. Good things can be idols too. Good people can become our idols.
John 12:43 “For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
Rather than. Instead of. One and not the other. If we want the approval of our friends or people we barely know on social media, we cannot also have the approval of God.
If you take out the words “the approval of,” it just says, “For they loved men rather than God.”
Is it more important to make God happy or to impress people and get 300 likes on Instagram?
Do we follow what the Spirit is telling us to do or give into peer pressure to do something we know isn’t right just so that one group of people will like us and finally start inviting us to hang out more?
Are those people in charge of your salvation and where you will spend eternity? If you really do love people and want to make them happy, you’ve got to show them Jesus even if it doesn’t seem like the cool thing to do.
It won’t be easy. We were told that and shown that by Jesus himself. But in the end, it will be worth it. If we really want people to love us, we have to lead them to Christ. They will eventually love us the way Christ does because He will reign in their hearts and their lives. Showing them who He is is the one and only way to show them true love. Because God is love.
It’s not only the approval of peers around us we have to be careful with. We have to be careful in our friendships and relationships with the people who mean the most to us.
My family means the world to me. I have a best friend that has been my friend for 22 years. It is so easy to forget that even they will disappoint me and can’t satisfy me the way God can.
At the end of the day, He is the only One who has never let me down. My family and friends are always there for me, but if I put all my faith in them, I will be upset more times than not. It’s not only an injustice to God and myself to rely on humans, it is not fair to them. Expecting out of people what only God can do sets us both up for failure and disappointment.
It’s the same in a romantic relationship. It has to be a triangle. God at the top, the two of you at the bottom corners. Without God at the top, you’re just a straight line and, well, that’s not even a shape, so it just can’t make any sense.
But seriously, a straight line doesn’t enclose anything. It allows for so much space on the outside. Inside a triangle where God is at the top, you can pull in the love you need from the Father to make sure you have a healthy, godly relationship.
The same is true for any friendship you’ll ever have.
Someone told me just the other day, every decision you make should be obedient and honoring. It has to be both. You have to honor the person while also being obedient to God. If you can’t be obedient to God with your decision, even if the other person is telling you it will honor them, it’s the wrong decision, and it truly won’t honor them.. whether that’s your parents, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, teacher… You have to be obedient to God first.
God commands us to be obedient to our parents, but you have to honor God first. He wants us to honor our friends, but we can’t disregard what He is saying just to make them happy.
JOY – Jesus Others Yourself – I know it’s corny, but it holds a lot of truth. We must put people above ourselves, but we also must put Jesus above people.
Proverbs 29:26 “Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord.”
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the the one and only God?”
How can you believe? Wow. Basically what John is telling us is that we can’t even say we are believers if we are over here trying to impress everybody and their mama and just forgetting about Jesus.
Let’s please Jesus. We can’t please everyone else. But if you please Him, He will give you the right people to love that will love you back without you having to try so hard.
He loves you even when you mess up. He forgives you every day. He is such a great friend, so why wouldn’t we want to please Him and be a great friend back? It takes two to make a relationship work.
So don’t worry so much about what everyone thinks about what you’re wearing or who you hang out with or what car you drive or how much money you make.
Striving for greatness is never a bad thing, so don’t be confused about that. But who you’re striving for greatness for, who you’re trying to impress, the people you long for attention from when you strive for those great things – that can be a bad thing.
Loving people more than Christ becomes easier to do once you fall in love with someone. When you’re in love with a person, they’re pretty much all you think about. But those thoughts take away from your thoughts about God and how you can strengthen your relationship with Him.
If you’re loving a significant other so much it’s taking you away from God, you need to run as fast as you can and fix your heart before you’re in too deep. Once you’re in love, it is hard to force yourself out. That’s why Christ is a necessary foundation at the beginning of every relationship, romantic or friendly.
Devoting your entire heart and soul and existence to a human is not ok unless you’ve first devoted it to God. We have to be lost in love with God in order to even find someone He sees fit for us to share our love for Him with.
Love Christ first, then the love for people will follow right behind. Once He’s in your heart, you can’t help but pour Him out wherever you go.
So don’t love people so much more than Christ that you get caught up serving them, not Him, and becoming a slave all over again. You’ve been set free – He set you free – so you don’t want that bondage.
Don’t put the chains of obsessing over people on and ignore the freedom at your fingertips.
Love people all day every day, but love God first and more.