I’m a pretty compliant person. Given a set of rules, as long as there is nothing “immoral, unbiblical, or unethical” about them, I’ll probably follow them. If someone says we should do something as long as it follows the same guidelines, I’ll probably go along (despite the stress that sometimes achieving the goals of others sometimes causes.) At the heart of it, the reasons for my compliance are probably a mix of desiring to do the right thing and wanting to make others happy. The first one is right, I’m not so sure about the latter.
The reason living your life to please others is so challenging is because, just like our own desires, what others want keeps changing. Change your behavior to accommodate one set of demands, and you’ll probably find that the contentment with that change along is short-lived. Maybe our shifting desires comes from the “God-shaped hole” we each have – trying to find something, anything to fill it. Maybe they come from the fact that a lot of us are driven to achieve, and sometimes that drive carries over to those we love. I don’t know. I do know that living to try to make other people happy is the short trip to a stressed life. It’s a goal that can never fully be achieved.
Thankfully, God’s desires are not so fluid. He simply delights in “those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11) In other words, God’s pleasure is manifest when His creation acknowledge Who He is, and trust in Him for their salvation. That which pleases the Father’s heart doesn’t change with the shifting winds. He rejoices when we rightly recognize Him.
The sad truth is that while pleasing God through humility may at times be challenging, its still quite simple. And yet most of us will spend far more effort trying to figure out how to please those we aspire to be, then we ever will pursuing the delight of our Creator.