To Be Pleasing

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Any time we dive into the realm of our motivations, the waters can be pretty murky. It’s difficult to discern why we do what we do. Still, it’s well worth the time and energy to consider what most compels us to live in the way that we do.

For just a few moments, let’s think about the part “pleasing the Lord” plays in our overall motivation. What does it mean to be pleasing to the Lord? Is it possible to be dis-pleasing? To what extent should the idea of pleasing the Lord determine how we live? And most importantly, what is it that fuels a person’s desire to please the Lord in the first place?praying-29699_640

There is a tendency within the church at large to take one of two positions which are assumed to be mutually exclusive. The first is that once we are in Christ – subjects of God’s kingdom – we are pleasing to the Lord at all times, no matter what. There is a sense in which that is true, but that conclusion doesn’t paint a complete biblical picture.

The second is that once we are in Christ – subjects of God’s kingdom – we are pleasing to the Lord only as long as we are obedient. It is assumed that when we are disobedient, we are utterly displeasing to the Lord and in some degree of peril until we confess our sin, repent and renew ourselves to Him. This too has threads of truth, but lacks an adequate representation of all that is true of those who have trusted in Christ.

The problem with these two views is that they minimize (view #1) and exaggerate (view #2) the effect of our obedient and disobedient choices. These views are also rooted in an assumption that God is limited to one or the other responses to our attitudes and actions.

The Bible, however, presents another explanation of God’s posture toward His people in the midst of their daily decisions.

God is actually capable of feeling pleasure and displeasure with His children simultaneously. Here’s what I mean …

On the one hand, having trusted in the sacrificial death of Christ for the forgiveness of our sin, we are forever justified and viewed by God as if we had never sinned and as if we had always done what is right. This is the glorious (even scandalous) reality of having been saved by grace, through faith, not as a result of works (Eph 2:8-9). We are ultimately pleasing to the Lord – and therefore subjects of His kingdom – not as a result of our performance, but as a result of placing our trust in the loving performance of Christ on our behalf.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:21–23)

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim 2:13)

On the other hand, it is possible to be displeasing to the Lord without jeopardizing our justified standing before God. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t have the following passages in our New Testament (all of which are written to justified believers) …

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Eph 4:30)

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor 5:9–10)

From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col 1:9–10)

Those who have entered the kingdom of God by grace through faith do not live according to His commands in order to find ultimate acceptance, but to please Him in the here and now, and experience the blessing of uninterrupted fellowship with Him.

It is the fact of our acceptance – His unwavering pleasure over our adoption into His family – that fuels our desire to please Him moment by moment. Gratitude for the assurance we have in Christ makes our daily obedience a sacrifice of thanksgiving rather than an attempt at appeasement.

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