You Can't Please Everyone

Gospel Message & Recording

In the gospel reading today Jesus tells the people, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” Then He goes on to say, “For I have come to set a father against his son, and a daughter against her mother…” Jesus uses explicit language to describe the age to come. That is, the age of Apostles. He is, therefore, prophesying about the time after His death, burial, resurrection, where those who declare to follow Him will be rejected by their own family, and in some cases, handed over to the authorities for death. 

In the early church, such cases were too often the truth. For example, her own father handed over Saint Barbara, a saint who lived in the fourth century, to the Roman authorities. Eventually, her father killed her. This is just one of the many accounts where the price of becoming a Christian was rejection by the family. This is what Jesus is speaking about. He was providing a glimpse into future.

This passage does not provide a license for family members to be in strife and quarrel. There is no reason for hating another family member. Jesus does not condone such behavior. Further, Jesus does not justify dysfunctional family behavior. This passage is specifically referring to situations where a family member has accepted Christ and the other family members turn against him or her.

There is a bigger picture that Jesus is attempting to show us; and that is simply: you can’t please everyone when you stand up for the truth. Jesus is addressing this idea in the most intimate way possible--by using the family as an example; because then, the pain can be felt more acutely. When you hear Christ talking about “a son hating his father” and “mother hating her daughter,” the feelings are painful, because it “hits close to home.” Then we are able to understand that if my father or mother can reject me, then what are the odds that other will?  But none of us want to be rejected.

We are living in a time where no one wants to stand up for the truth for fear of rejection. This is caused by, first, an ever-growing need to be liked and, second, a need to please everyone. If you believe in Christ, and the standards that He sets in the Bible, then there is no way we can please everyone. This does not mean we are granted the freedom to be rude, vicious, back talking, loud or negative. Rather, with respect and love, like Christ, be brave and courageous. If we always try to please everyone, we will never be the person that God has called us to be. We will always be a follower. Instead, please Jesus. Whether that means letting our coworker know that why we can’t do or say certain things. Or, maybe we find ourselves suppressing our opinions or thoughts because we are afraid of differences of opinion. Remember, sometimes such differences are necessary. Other people, no matter what circumstance or situation we are in, will be against us. We can’t please everyone. If Jesus tried to please everyone, He wouldn’t have gone to the Cross.

I remember when I made a decision to go to seminary that it wasn’t a popular one with my family. Primarily because I wouldn’t be able to find a job with a seminary Master’s degree. However, I knew, that even though it wasn’t popular, I had to follow the direction that God had placed in my heart. And I have never since looked back. The point is this: when we follow the laws of God we will respect others, but at the same time realize that respecting Christ is more important. This may mean that we don't please everyone in our life, but in the end, we are pleasing God. And that matters!

Discussion Questions

  1. Are you a people pleaser? How would you know if you are one? Do you find yourself suppressing your thoughts and ideas because you are afraid of what others might think?
  2. Was there a time in your life that you followed what God wanted you to do, even though others were against it?
  3. At work (or church) do you find yourself attempting to please everyone? Are their times when you expressed your opinion or thoughts, despite the fact that coworker (church members) or boss did not agree?