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Please God, Not Others

Overcoming peer pressure — Part 2

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: It’s easy to let other people (your peers) pressure you. The key to overcome peer pressure is to please God, not other people. As you grow closer to Jesus, other people’s pressure will not matter as much to you.

Part 2 of a 4-part series on “Overcoming Peer Pressure”

Part 1      Part 3      Part 4

Review of Part 1 on “Overcoming Peer Pressure”

Part 1 — Who’s Pulling Your Strings? This Bible study illustrates how you may give in to  peer pressure and go along with others, unaware of how you are being controlled.

The key to overcoming peer pressure

The best ways to overcome peer pressure is to change your focus from pleasing people to pleasing God. Here’s how Paul put it:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Many years before Paul wrote these words, David warned us not to be controlled by sinners or mockers, but instead to delight ourselves in God’s law.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Solomon made a similar point when he wrote:

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Grow in your relationship with Jesus

As you grow closer to Jesus, you will become more like him, and you will have greater power to resist peer pressure. Your desire to please him will grow, and your desire to please others will lesson.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

Being a Christian is much more than joining a religion. It is entering a relationship with Jesus. It is growing closer to him. It is loving and serving God with all your heart.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 10:12)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus

Have you ever been with people who were making negative comments about Christianity or about Jesus himself? If so, have you ever felt awkward or possibly ashamed of the fact that you were a Christian?

Read about a time some Jewish leaders who believed in Jesus did not confess their faith because of peer pressure:

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43)

It’s easy to think poorly of these leaders for their lack of loyalty to Jesus, but I think many of us have had similar reactions at times.

Let’s read what Jesus said about people who deny knowing him:

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

These are sobering warnings, but there’s hope for you if you have denied Jesus. Peter, a key apostle, denied Jesus, yet he reconnected with Jesus later and shared the gospel with countless people.

Jesus is your best friend, and much more than your best friend. He is God. He gave you life, and he made the supreme sacrifice to give you spiritual life. Don’t let peer pressure turn you away from him.

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else. (1 Thessalonians 2:6)

Reach out to others

This Bible study is about pleasing God, not others. However, that doesn’t mean we should be hostile to others. God wants us to love everyone and be the best examples we can be to them. Many times that means serving or helping them. As Paul wrote:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. (1 Corinthians 9:19)

Pleasing God, not others, doesn’t mean you should correct or argue with everyone who criticizes Jesus. If someone says something bad about Christianity, silently ask God how (and if) you should respond. There will be times when you should speak, and there will be times when you should be silent.

I once had a supervisor who made extremely negative comments about Christianity. Other times he asked me challenging questions. Although I would have been glad to have honest discussions with him, he was trying to get me to say something he could use to get me fired. I chose to be quiet. I was not denying Christ. I was trying to be wise.

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. (Proverbs 9:7-8)

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

Ask yourself, “What would please God?”

When you are faced with peer pressure to do something or go somewhere, silently pray and ask yourself, “What would please God?” or “What would Jesus do?”

Memory verse

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else. (1 Thessalonians 2:6)

Make it personal

1. Paul wrote that he wasn’t trying to please people (Galatians 1:10), yet he wrote many times about serving people. Was he contradicting himself? Why or why not?

2. How can we know if we are pleasing God or giving in to peer pressure? Explain your answer.

3. Do you ever think about pleasing God when you are tempted to go along with negative peer pressure? How can you improve in the future?

4. Have you ever felt awkward or ashamed about being a Christian? Explain your answer.

5. Write a short prayer asking God to help you focus on pleasing him, not others.

6. Does pleasing God, not others, mean that you don’t have to worry about what others think? Why or why not?

7. If someone is criticizing Christianity, describe a circumstance in which it would be wise to talk with him or her about the criticism.

8. If someone is criticizing Christianity, describe a circumstance in which it would not be wise to talk with him or her about the criticism.

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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