Wisdom Knows Whom to Please
I was fearful for many years. Fearful of messing up. Afraid to disappoint. Afraid to speak up. Many times in my past, when I had been honest it was not well received and came back to bite me. So, for many years (until sometime in my forties), I had learned to do two things: 1. Stuff what I felt so much that I wasn’t even sure what I thought, or 2: Assume the best and safest thing to do was to please whoever was an authority figure in my life.
This was not wisdom. I thought it was wisdom at the time, but it was survival out of fear.
It’s right to show respect to others, but it is not right to confuse respect with dishonesty. I had let fear cause dishonesty. I had to learn to be vulnerable, sharing what I truly believed. I had to pray and fast to overcome this and ask for help—often ending a conversation with someone by saying, “I’m working on being vulnerable. How am I doing?” I begged God to help me through his Spirit to turn this weakness into strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). Praise God, by his power, this has become a strength.
Most of all, this quality takes integrity and an understanding of the love of God.
Wyndham will tell you this quality was not always easy for him, but I watched him have the wisdom, courage, and integrity to hold to the truth and to speak honestly in love. I admired and sought to emulate such deep integrity.
It was not always popular or well received, but as a man of integrity he held to and often referred to this scripture:
They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? (Mark 12:14)
What a Scripture, and what a challenge! To have such integrity that the only concern is pleasing God, holding to his truth without being swayed by what is popular or easier. He was careful, kind, and gentle in his honesty—learning when and how to say things, and what battles were not worth fighting on behalf of a “bigger picture.” He also read often and strove to keep true in his heart Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
Wyndham encouraged me in my growth. I read and meditated on Mark 12:14 often, along with another Scripture I have carried in my heart:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18).
I continually seek to better understand and to more brightly reflect God’s amazing love—and have learned that wisdom knows whom to please. If we don’t get this one right we will compromise our convictions and continue in fear. It’s easier than we think to fall into this trap. It’s all too easy to be concerned with “what will they think?”
Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NRSV)
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts….
6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others… (1 Thessalonians 2:4,6 NRSV)