Diving into Proverbs 29:25- part 1

By Dr. Mark E. Shaw (with TAC Team)

  • Can I please God and make people happy, too? It’s not wrong to do good for others and want to please them, is it?
  • I usually just want to do good things or say good things to make other people feel good about themselves.
  • What does pleasing people mean in the Bible, and why is it talked about as negative?
  • How do I know the difference between what God is calling me to do and whether or not I am sinning when I do a good thing for someone? What is the fear of man?

These are good questions to be asked and answered biblically, but we must discover the heart behind these questions. What is motivating my heart at the belief level? How can it become clear to me that fear of mankind is forming and driving these desires within me to please people?

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected. [1]

Essentially, fear of man is at the heart level motivating us when we are focused on pleasing people, exalting our image before them, or trying to control what they perceive of us.

Setting our hopes on never disappointing the people in our lives, we will quickly lose heart. Most of the time we will end up failing to please someone somewhere along the way so setting our hopes on what people think of us really is a futile exercise! It is fueled by fear of what they might think of us if they see our imperfections. We want them to exalt us, instead of Christ in us!

Pleasing people due to the fear of man often means that you will not be pleasing God. And that is most important.

In Galatians 1:10, the Apostle Paul is concerned about the true Gospel being proclaimed; not an altered message and meaning adapted for different audiences:

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (ESV) [2]

That is not to say that you should not be concerned with being kind and tender and compassionate to others. The Bible is not saying that you should forget about people in front of you and be absent or be rude to them. Of course not! There are plenty of instructions in God’s Word about showing kindness, patience, tenderness, as we love people the way God intended for us to.

But God wants us to please people out of love for them.

That’s the purest motive based upon a primary aim of pleasing God. You can ask yourself in the moment,

“Am I thinking of the Lord right now as I love this person, or am I thinking about how this person is perceiving or reacting to me?”

Trusting the Lord and fearing God will be shown in your life by loving others and obeying His commands. The 10 Commandments are God’s “cliff notes” for loving Him and loving others well.

Wisdom from Proverbs about Trusting God

In the opening Proverb quoted in the introduction, God offers a warning to protect His people from a trap. The snare of wanting to please people for selfish motives above pleasing God first and foremost can be a vicious cycle. That’s why the Bible calls it a snare, or a trap.

While that motivation to please people is a trap, there is something good that is never ensnaring. This good heart desire actually even protects. It comes from trusting the Lord. But how can I tell if I am trusting the Lord or getting into a snare?

Practically speaking, you are always trusting something whether you realize it or not. Unbelievers and believers alike are always trusting something or someone based upon what they truly believe.

Unbelievers might not be trusting God, but they are trusting something. Often, that something that they are trusting is themselves—relying upon what they know or think they know. Relying upon past performance. Relying upon their own set of moral standards.

We all walk by faith, but the question is are we walking by faith in Christ alone. He is the ONLY Person to trust. His Word is the ONLY source of truth to trust. Both are to be trusted in this life and in the next life eternal.

No human being can perceive the specifics about what is to come in the next life, but God gives us glimpses of it. For the believer, it is going to be better than we could ever imagine, and we believe that by faith. No mere human person can give us a glimpse into the afterlife, and it is foolish to try to please those who have no power or control over eternal things. But the God of the universe does. As Jesus taught in Luke 12:5, it is clear: “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

The Bible repeats over and over how we must trust God and not mankind. Not even ourselves, our perceptions of our observations, our understandings, or our conclusions! Proverbs 3:5-8 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

God says to trust in Him repeatedly because we default to trusting in ourselves or seeking to please people sinfully ahead of God. He wants us to be secure in our identity in Christ as believers. There is no one else to please but God (2 Cor. 5:9).

Christ in You

In The Addiction Connection, the mission focus is connecting hurting souls to Christ which is accomplished as He works through us. Colossians 1:29 says: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” This verse is a good place to evaluate your heart motivations in your service to others. Are you acknowledging that all the energy to serve others is God’s energy that he is powerfully working within you? Pause and acknowledge Him and thank Him for that now.

For those of us in TAC’s network, proclaiming the Hope of the Gospel is our privilege! The huge earnestness in us about our rare message energizes us because we believe we’re one of the few and maybe even one of the very few voices talking about addiction as a sin issue of the heart and the answers totally being found in Christ Jesus alone.

Addiction is better termed idolatry according to the Bible and it is rooted in your heart desires which often include a strong desire to please people above God. Again pleasing people usually can be shucked down to your desire to look good in their eyes. This is an important topic for those enslaved to addictive choices.

There is hope in the Gospel for your heart desires to be transformed by the Holy Spirit when you repent and agree with God about what, or better yet, WHO, you want your life to be about. Pleasing God and trusting HIM alone will produce freedom and joy!

The Addiction Connection is Here for You!

The Addiction Connection is a network of ministries who offer hope in Jesus for those struggling with addiction of any kind. Our network of encouraging resources, ministries, and biblical programs that stretch across America and the world will always point people to truth in Jesus Christ for answers.

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[1] Scriptures verses marked CSB are from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

[2] Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.