Key verse: John 12:43
Big idea: The sign of a hard heart is loving people's praise.
People-pleasing is the kind of vice that sounds like a virtue. Wouldn't it be a good thing to want to make people happy? No one wants to disappoint people. But the issue is one of priority. If our prime directive is to avoid upsetting people, we are likely to frequently disappoint God. That is what happened to the people in this chapter, who believed Jesus' claims but refused to confess Him because they were worried about how the religious leaders would react. The threat of being shamefully excommunicated from the synagogue and polite society was more than they were willing to risk, so they smothered the truth (Romans 1:18).
The reason it is so easy to become a people-pleaser is that we are so sensitive to the attitudes people have toward us. A little bit of praise or an angry complaint touches our hearts sharply and push us in one direction or the other. But our hearts are much harder when it comes to God. We do not notice His conviction when we are doing the wrong thing or His encouragement when we do the right. So the praise of people, which is really worth little, seems to be worth a lot. And the praise of God, which is worth everything, becomes neglected and ultimately ignored. These people, for fear of being rejected by people in life, risked being rejected by God in death. What about you?
Discussion idea: Are you a people-pleaser? What are some areas where you are tempted to be 'nice' rather than holy? Is it possible to satisfy people for long?
Prayer focus: Ask God to soften your heart so you are led by His priorities, not those of people.