People Pleasing

What motivates our words and actions?

Read Matthew 21:23-32.

These two paragraphs seem completely disconnected, but one common thread is “people-pleasing.” In the first, Jesus poses a question to the chief priests and elders, who are trying to trap him by his words. They’re afraid if they answer one way, Jesus will point out their hypocrisy in front of everyone, but if they answer another way, the people will be angry. Paralyzed by this predicament, they answer, “We do not know.”

In the second section, one son initially refuses to do what his father asks, but out of love and respect, does it anyway. The other son, giving the appearance of obedience, agrees to do the work, but then sloughs it off.

This brings up the following question: what motivates our words and actions? Are we afraid to stand for and speak honestly about what we believe, even if it means someone may disagree? Have there been times when you have held your tongue just to avoid conflict, even when it may have been harmful to keep quiet? Have there been times when you found it hard to follow through on promises you may have made to God or to other people? What might have motivated the first son in the story to follow through even though he had at first declined?

In prayer, ask for strength of character and commit yourself to keeping whatever promises you make, no matter how popular or unpopular they may be with the people around you.


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