Pleasing God

      "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I
seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of
Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Most people live to please themselves, even among
evangelicals. The lament of the Apostle Paul is even truer today: “all seek
their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s
” (Phil. 2:21). The Bible
teaches plainly that it is privilege, not a burden, to live to please God. Yet
how difficult it is to find believers who understand that they are servants of
Christ; that their purpose in life is to do God’s will and please Him. They are
rare gems, and have been since Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve fell into sin and did
what pleased themselves instead of what pleased God.

The Scriptures are clear that the focus of the
life of the believer is not himself or herself, but Christ, not just on Sunday
at meeting times, but all day and all week, all throughout life. Let’s consider
what the Lord has to say about pleasing Him.

In John 8:29 we read, “...I do always those
things that please Him.
” Don’t we wish that we could say that? But, alas, we
can’t, and therein lies our problem. How many homes have been broken, lives
ruined and wasted, friendships damaged and churches split because of people who
lived to please themselves! No, these words in John 8:29 do not describe our
life, but that of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. His was a fragrant life lived
in the will of the Father, for the pleasure of the Father. Are we followers of
the Lord? If so, we should walk in His steps, imitate Him. 1 John 2:6 says,
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he
” This is not directed at preachers, elders or missionaries, but at
every true believer and follower of the Lord. No Christian is given permission
to live his life to please himself. All Christians are called to follow and
imitate Christ. We believe that Psalm 40:8 speaks prophetically of our Lord,
when in it the psalmist declares, “I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea,
thy law is within my heart.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it
is impossible to please God.
” It does not say that without faith it is
impossible to please self or others, or be on good terms with the world. All
that can be achieved without a grain of faith. But faith pleases God, He wants
to be believed and trusted, and He deserves it! And in order to live and behave
in a way that pleases Him, we must trust Him. Feelings, logic, and looking
around to see what others are doing, are things that derail us. We must
believe God
, which is not the same as believing in God. It means to
trust Him inherently, completely, to put God first, before emotions, logic,
family, tradition, personal likes, common sense, and before what the majority
thinks or does. Unless we believe Him and follow Him this way, we cannot please

In 2 Timothy 2:4 we learn from Paul that as the
soldier pleases the one who called him to be a soldier, so it should be with the
Christian. That phrase in verse 4, “...that he might please,” succinctly
states the life-purpose of the spiritually minded person. Elsewhere the Apostle
calls believers to be imitators of him even as he is of Christ. We should ask,
as Paul did, “Lord, what will thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6), not out of
curiosity, but with a commitment to do whatever He desires. And if we ask
the Lord, how will we know the answer? We will not find it in the newspaper, on
television or radio, nor on the internet. To know what God wants us to do, we
need to be reading God’s Word, and deepening our understanding of Him and His
ways. Life is full of obligations and pleasures that consume our time, and most
of them have little eternal importance. In order to grow in grace and in the
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we need to be living in His Word.
We need to read it daily, study it diligently, and meditate on it devotionally.

Another passage that speaks clearly of pleasing
God is Hebrews 11:5, with Genesis 5:22. The great chapter on faith in Hebrews is
not a museum, but a manual. It is not to admire, but to learn from and imitate.
The Lord tells us there that Enoch pleased God and walked with Him. Now, why
would the Lord tell us that, except for the obvious reason that this is what He
desires from us. Before Enoch was translated, he had this testimony, that he
pleased God. That was God’s testimony concerning Enoch. When someone dies, folks
generally try to say something nice about the deceased, and their comments may
or may not be sincere and accurate. God’s testimony is always true and accurate.
We cannot spend our lives having fun with worldlings, madly chasing career,
money, success and pleasure, and then at the end have this kind of testimony
from God. We might fool people because we show up at most of the Sunday
meetings, but God is never fooled. What are our priorities? When no one sees us,
are we walking with God. Is our weekday life filled with fellowship with Him and
thoughts of pleasing Him? Each of us should ask himself, “If I were to die
today, would the Lord say that about me?”

In Colossians 1:10 the Scriptures call us to
walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” It is an absolute
principle of spiritual life in redeemed people. That word that comes before
“pleasing” is of interest to us. “Fully” means “completely,” “all the
way,” “entirely,” “not leaving anything out.” This is the extent to which we are
to please the Lord. How much of me belongs to the Lord, not positionally, but
practically speaking? Is my orthodoxy way ahead of my orthopraxy? It is one
thing to sing “All for Jesus, all for Jesus, all my being’s ransomed powers, all
my days and all my hours,” and yet another to live it. Perhaps that is why Tozer
said that Christians tell more lies when they sing hymns than at any other time!
Romans 7:4 reminds us that we should “..bear fruit to God.” 2 Corinthians
5:14-15 says concerning those whom the Lord has saved, that they “should live
no longer for themselves, but for Him that died for them and rose again.

Hebrews 13:16 gives us the following exhortation.
But to do good and communicate [share] forget not, for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased.
” This is of interest to the person whose
desire is to please the Lord. What pleases Him? When we do good, that is, to
others, seeking their good, not our own, this is pleasing to God. When we
communicate, better translated “share,” with others, this pleases the Lord. This
is what beggars never do, for they are basically selfish people who only think
of receiving; they are in it for what they can get, and your job is to give them
what they need. Unfortunately there are many parachurch organizations who are
like them, always advertising needs and asking for money and workers, who
apparently think the churches exist to supply their needs. But our concern here
is more with ourselves. If the Boy Scouts do a good deed every day as part of
their code of behavior, how much more should our lives as Christians be full of
good deeds, done in Christ’s name so that He, not we, gets the glory!

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 the Apostle reminds the
believers that they have learned how they ought to “walk and please God.” The
epistle is written to all the saints in Thessalonica, not just to the more
spiritually mature. Here we see that the doctrine of the Apostles was much more
than writing creeds or declaring truths about the Trinity. Apostolic doctrine
included instructions for everyday life. This is missing in much preaching and
teaching today, and some folks resent preachers that “get into their lives,” but
that is the apostolic pattern. “Walk” is a word that refers to our daily
conduct, our moment by moment behavior. Whatever we are about to do or say, we
should ask, “Will this please God?” It is a great test that could deliver us
from many problems and wasted time. Let me give just one real practical example
for the young people. Did you choose your career, or did the Lord choose it?
Have you basically kept going in the same direction in life that you were headed
in before you professed faith in Christ? Have you ever put your career choice
and preference on the altar before the Lord, abandoned it, and said, “Lord, what
do You want me to do with the life you have given me?” Or do you only ask
Him to bless what you choose for yourself? Some answer saying, “but the Lord
gave me a mind to think and choose.” I say, “Amen! So think about doing His
will. Think about the fact that He knows better than you, that He sees the
future and you don’t even know what you’ll eat for supper! Think about how
worthy He is to be trusted with that important decision! Think, and choose God’s

1 Corinthians 7:32 instructs single believers
that they should be concerned with “how to please the Lord.” In Ephesians
6:3 parents are told to bring up their children the way that pleases God, not
the way that pleases self, the relatives or the world. In Colossians 3:20
children are told to obey their parents in everything, and the divinely
given reason is because “this pleases the Lord.”

In Ephesians 6:9 masters, bosses are told to
treat their servants or employees as the Lord desires. Ephesians 6:5-6 reminds
servants/employees that obeying their masters/bosses and serving them well is
serving the Lord.” In 1 Peter 5:1-4 elders are instructed to shepherd the
saints in a way that pleases the Lord, after all, the sheep are His, not theirs.
If a man abuses his delegated authority to make the saints conform to his likes
and dislikes, he is pleasing himself, not the Lord. Neither is he pleasing the
Lord if he neglects his delegated responsibility and fails to care pastorally
for the saints. Elder, pastor, and bishop (overseer) are not titles but words
that describe the character and work of those to whom the Lord entrusts the care
of His people. The most important thing is not to please self, nor to please the
assembly, but to please the Lord. Before teaching His Word, our prayer should be
that of the psalmist, “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD my strength and my redeemer
” (Psa.

But the greatest example is that of our Lord
Jesus. Romans 15:2-3 extols the virtues of the Lord and calls us to be like Him.
Even Christ pleased not Himself,” we are told. Here is the mountain
peak! He could have pleased Himself, but He didn’t, and for that we thank God.
He could have stayed in Heaven. He could have come to earth in all His regal
glory and power. He could have avoided the cross, or He could have come down
from it, but where would we end up if He had done that? We are followers of the
One who did not please Himself, but His Father. When He taught us to pray,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” those were not just pious
sounding words. His life was the incarnation of those words.

May we learn to judge everything in that simple
light, by this simple question, “is it God’s will, my will, or someone else’s
will?” The test is, “Is it truly pleasing to the Lord,” for that is why we live,
to please Him and glorify Him. God is calling us to put away self-pleasing, no
matter what the changes are that must take place, no matter what the cost.
Whether we are doing ordinary things like eating or drinking, or whatever we do,
we should do all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). He bought us with the
blood of His Son; we are His, not ours. Our right to live to please self was
nailed to the cross. “What, know ye not that…ye are not your own? For ye are
bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit,
which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).