"Stop trusting in mere humans,
who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?" — Isaiah 2:22
Imagine that you are inside a large prestigious bank standing in front of two people. The first is a bank teller, the second, the owner of the bank. You are there to secure a large loan. If you had 30 seconds to speak with and impress one of these two people, who would it be?
Of course you would choose the owner of the bank, who has far more authority and power than the employee. The teller can only help you as much as the owner will allow him or her to do so.
This analogy can help us appreciate the difference between living our lives with the aim of impressing people and living in order to please God. People-pleasing is an epidemic in our society. And yet, it makes just as much sense as trying to please the bank teller instead of the bank owner. If we would appreciate that God has infinitely more to give us, and that people only have what God allows them to possess and share, we would never make people-pleasing our focus again.
Isaiah put it this way when he said, "Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?"
It's interesting how Isaiah chose to describe humans as those "who have but a breath in their nostrils. Remember how man was first created back in Genesis? "Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being"(Genesis 2:7).
Human beings not only live dependent on the breath of their nostrils, but it is God who put and continues to place the breath there in the first place. This underscores the absurdity of serving man over God. All humanity has, and all that they are, is due to God. It makes far more sense to go straight to the source of all goodness and blessings.
Yet, for many of us, pleasing others is a difficult habit to break. But consider the following: choosing to please people over God will make us miserable. We can never please them enough. Valuing the opinions of people over God's can make us miss our life's purpose since we might end up living a life someone else has chosen for us instead of what God has called us to do.
Consider all we have to lose by striving to please others; then consider all we might gain by choosing to please God instead. Which will you choose?
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President