The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer. ― Adam Smith

Recognizing the flesh is easy when it has negative expressions. It’s easy to see the junk when “performance flesh” burns us out, when “superior flesh” lashes out, or when “caretaker flesh” perpetuates destructive relationships.

But sometimes the flesh manifests itself in ways that seem positive. Is it wrong to want to please people? Is it wrong to want to perform well? The answer has more to do with the why than the what.

One of my own flesh patterns is the “pleaser flesh;” I do things for others so they will like me. Back before Libby and I figured out this whole “crucify the flesh” thing, I would sense that she was upset with me, and would try to please her to earn her acceptance by cleaning the kitchen. She’d see it clean and become angry.

Disappointed, I’d say, “How could you be mad at me? I just cleaned the whole kitchen!” But one time she said, “I don’t know why I’m mad, it just feels yucky.” Why did my attempt to please her feel yucky? Because I was cleaning the kitchen to manipulate her, to get her to like me, to control our relationship.

I learned a lot about my flesh from that experience, but I could have just as easily learned it first from the Word and saved us a lot of pain!

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)

Is there anything wrong with cleaning the kitchen? Of course not… if you are walking in the Spirit. You may get a completely different reaction for the same action. Why? Because in the Spirit I’m serving her to love her; in the flesh I’m serving her to get something. Do you see the difference? It doesn’t guarantee that your actions in the Spirit will have the desired effect, but at least it could. Flesh stinks even when doing “good things,” and your spouse can sniff it a mile away.

Father, I want to crucify my flesh. If I am doing things for the wrong reasons, change my heart so they would be done without my personal agenda. Amen.

Taken from Pete’s 365-day devotional book Experiencing LIFE Today.