Why feeding the poor and dressing modestly isn’t always right

I belong to Jesus. You belong to Jesus. We’ve heard it in Sunday school, at Church, at youth retreats and Christian camps. We read about it in the Bible, in Christian books and pastor’s blogs. We even sing it in songs and wear it on t-shirts. But do we really believe it?

The truth is, we profess it and we like the way it sounds, but often times when it comes down to it, we don’t act like it. 

When you love somebody, be it a family member, a best friend or a significant other, you want to do what pleases them. I hear and read about countless stories exemplifying this, and at some point or another, I am one of those stories.

As kids, we want to please our parents. We want to do what they want: go to church with them, get good grades, hang out with good influences and volunteer at a local charity to help the poor.

As teenagers, we want to please our friends. We want to go to the school they go to, like the people they think we’re suited for, and have weekend plans that include them.

As girlfriends, we want to please our boyfriends. We don’t wear things that are too revealing because of them, we go to Church because that’s important to them, and we limit how far we go physically because they value purity.

As boyfriends, we want to please our girlfriends. We don’t do things we might otherwise do with the guys, we spend less time playing x-box or playstation for their sake, we try and play with little kids because we know how much that makes her smile, and we limit how far we go physically because they value purity.

But, after spending time in God’s Word, I can’t help but think that all of the above are wrong. Completely and totally wrong.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AP)”> 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AQ)”> whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AR)”>— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AS)”> For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AT)”> so that they may be saved.”

Based on that, what we do should be driven by two things: our desire to see Christ’s Name glorified and our desire to see God’s Kingdom furthered.  As girls – single, dating or married – what we wear should not solely be based on the idea that we want to please the guys in our life and that we don’t want them to sin. Notice in verse 32, Paul says we should try to please everyone. However, try is the key word. We won’t always succeed. Regardless of what we wear, they are going to sin at some point or another. They’re humans and as humans, we have a sinful nature. What happens then, when they sin and we were completely modest? Did we fail? Well, if our only motivation for dressing modestly was so that the men in our life don’t sin, then when they do sin, we do fail. It becomes a reminder that we’re messed up people and that we can never be perfect. So why should we even bother?

But, before Paul says to try to please others, He says we should try to please and glorify God. If our motivation for dressing modestly comes from our desire to glorify God and to help the men in our life glorify God, then even when we’re fully clothed and they sin, we haven’t failed. It’s a reminder of how desperately we need Jesus, and while we’ll never attain perfection, God looks at us and sees perfection, because His Son took our place, our sin, on the cross.

Secondly, what we do should be driven by our desire to see God’s Kingdom furthered. I believe that in God’s eyes, doing the right thing for the wrong reason is just like doing the wrong thing. (See Matthew 6:1-4) So, volunteering to please our parents or playing with little ones to please our girlfriends is the same as not doing either. Matthew 6:1-4 shows us that doing good to please others doesn’t make God smile – in fact, He won’t even reward us. Instead, going back to 1 Corinthians 10:33, we should do what we do because we want to see others saved. We should volunteer because we want others to see God’s love in action, and we should play with little kids because little kids are important to Jesus (Matthew 19:13-14).

We do belong to Jesus, and when you love somebody, you want to do what pleases them. We should do things not because they please our parents or our friends, but because they please Jesus. After all, what parent, friend, or significant other gave up their life and left Perfection for you? You’re bought with a very high price, one you can’t re-pay. I often struggle with the desire to please others. It’s a good feeling to know you’re doing something right in their eyes. But after dwelling on this, my only goal should be to please Jesus…the rest will take care of itself.

I’m so thankful Jesus didn’t worry about pleasing his earthly parents, his friends or society. Had he, I’d be destined for eternal separation from Him. But just as everything He did was to please God, I too want to follow in His footsteps and strive to please my God; won’t you join me?