Whom Do You Most Want to Please?

Whom do you most want to please? What an important question. Is it your boss? Your spouse? Your children? Your ego? Your soul/spirit? God? The decisions we make everyday are guided and directed by the simple element of whom we are trying to please.

I recently read a book by Lisa See, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan". It is a tale of a Chinese woman in the 19th century. Women were raised not to please the self but to please their husband, their mother-in-law, and their family. They endured loneliness, mistreatment, and abuse with never a raised voice. They were guided by the laws of Confucius that dictated strict rules for women’s behavior and their relationship to society.

Women were valued very little in that culture. They lived their lives behind a lattice in an upper chamber and their lot and worth depended upon their ability to produce a son—the only child of any value. The sad part about this is that the mistreatment of women was done in the name of religion—indeed it is usually in the name of religion.

The way that Christ treated women was radical. He elevated them to a status that was unheard of. Women followed Him in His ministry and He taught them the scriptures. The attitude of many Christians towards the correct role of women in society and in the home often differs greatly from the example of Christ Himself.

Whom do you most want to please? You can see that there is no simple straightforward answer that guarantees the right treatment of individuals. The women in the story wanted to please their families. But they also treated each other poorly, were incredibly competitive and viscous with each other, and basically could hold any woman “beneath” them in as much contempt as did their male counterparts. The men were trying to follow the dictates of their conscious and follow the teachings of Confucius.

We can try to please our children and end up spoiling them instead of helping them. People have even committed illegal acts in an attempt to please their boss. Much mistreatment of our fellow man is in an effort to please God. The whole notion of Jihad, “Holy War”, is a misguided act of death and cruelty.

We do many things trying to please the dictates of our ego. Status and materialism are just two examples of areas we become entrapped in—and then there is power and control.

How can we decide then if what we are doing is really going to please God? It seems that the whole problem boils down to the condition of our hearts and attitudes. God is love. Everything God does is in the best interest of Love. We, on the other hand, tend towards selfishness. We naturally do things in the best interest of ourselves. In order to even begin to understand how to please God we need a new heart, a new mind.

The Apostle Paul tells us to “put on the mind of Christ”. He is telling us that we need a new way of thinking. The way that we put on the mind of Christ is not only through studying the example of His life, but also but inviting the Spirit of God into our hearts. Meditating on the life of Christ and understanding the value He placed on each individual changes us from the inside out.

Paul also spoke of the freedom of this type of mind. “Now there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Greek, for we are all one in Christ”. This is the essence of Christianity. It is radical equality and respect for each one. When viewed through the light of this lens the question of whom we most want to please opens up a broad and inclusive plane. It suggests a life of service to all. It is inclusive in its scope rather than exclusive.

Truly this concept of inclusiveness and love is one that is worthy of our consideration and our devotion. It is also one that we need the empowerment of Spirit to accomplish. Imagine a world where every person is valued—all our treated with love and respect. Each individual grows into his or her full potential. That is the Kingdom of Heaven. We can begin to have this kind of world now by putting on the mind of Christ.