The bible is given to us not only as an instruction manual but also an instrument of correction and for wisdom acquisition. Some of the stories (which are real occurrences by the way) found in the bible are there to instruct believers for the purpose of character development and acquiring wisdom. Recently, I started learning that it is very important that believers be built also in character as they are in spirituality. The Pharisees happen to be a very good case study on characters not expected of a believer.
For people as wise and as grounded in knowledge as the Pharisees, it is amazing to see how much they failed to recognize Jesus as Savior or rather, how much they refused to acknowledge Him as Savior. One of the causes of this kind of reaction from them was their desire to please people.
The Pharisees were people-pleasers.
That is, they preferred to please the people, rather than please God. Their mindset was fixated on “what would people say” rather than “what would God say”. A Scriptural proof of this is found in the bible. On several occasions they had tried to arrest or try to kill Jesus and the disciples, they could have done that as soon as possible given that they were that powerful but one thing limited them; not their fear of God or the realization that doing that would be wrong of them, but because they feared what people would say [Matthew 21:46; Mark 12:12]. Again, Jesus challenged them with a question in Matthew 21:24-27 and they knew the right answer to it but they did not say it because that would make Jesus right. Saying the wrong answer was not option for them either because they feared what the people would do to them. These were so-called teachers of the law, however, they respected people’s opinion more than God’s.
Today, you’d see a person doing something that he is not happy with just because it’d make others praise him. That should not be, especially for us as believers. In this kingdom, the opinion and views of God matter the most. Instead of thinking “what would people say” think “what is God saying”. Our views should tally with God’s views anyway so let Jesus be the One who calls the shots in your life. Let me tell you what valuing the opinion of others more does to you.
Physically, it makes you lose self esteem and gives you inferiority complex; until someone tells you you’re doing well, you would never believe so and if someone says the opposite, you’d see all your hard-work as rubbish. Spiritually, it makes you weak. You believe less in what God says about you and you become like the Pharisees; a doubter or a person who knows but refuses to acknowledge. You become someone who puts the values of God at rivalry with that of the world and be sure to know that God would not rival anyone, He’d rather let you do your own thing. When you value people’s opinion more, falling into sin would be less avoidable. Cue, King David who had already slept with another man’s wife could have stopped at that point and considered how grave such a sin was in the presence of God but his first resort was to think what the people would say about his actions. So, in his bid to cover up, he committed even more sin by murdering the woman’s husband. [2 Samuel 11-12]
Don’t get me wrong, this not a leverage for anyone to begin to care less what people say about them. People also give you an image of who you truly are. You might not know how your behavior is but people would tell you. What I am saying is, in situations where the opinion of people counter God’s opinion, you will do very well by discarding the opinion of people. Jesus Himself once asked “who do people say I am”, however when it did not correlate with who He truly is, He decided to discard it. [Matthew 16:13]
A believer should not be someone who seeks the opinion of men over God’s opinion. Joseph chose God’s views over the views of Potiphar’s wife and he was able to resist temptation and keep his honor before God [Genesis 39:6-9]. The character of a Christian is a heart that submits to the supreme opinions of God found in His word and in constant communication with Him.