Article: Find out what pleases the Lord | Jacob Varghese
How many of us try to please others? Do you ever try to? Most of us like to please others, right? May be our parents, spouses, colleagues, friends and neighbours. Especially if we know that we will be benefitted through someone, we try to please them in all possible ways. But Paul through his writing asks us not to be man- pleasers, instead he advises us to find out what pleases the Lord. In Ephesians 5:10 we read, “Find out what pleases the Lord”.
Find out what is acceptable to the Lord. Yes, try to discern or carefully determine, figure out what will please Christ and then do it. Ephesians 5:8 reminds us “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” So now as Christians what we have to do? We have to conduct ourselves as children of light, need to walk in the light of the gospel we have received. Walking in the light involves finding out and approving something that pleases the Lord. When we find that what pleases the Lord, our lives should be a standing rebuke to a sinful world. Our lives should be ever ready to express our strong disapproval of this world’s wickedness in every form.
Ephesians Chapter 5 covers two important themes: obedience to the example of Christ, and the relationship between husbands and wives. Here Paul discusses how believers are to be imitators of God through a focus on the love demonstrated by Christ. But this message is based on Ephesians 5:10 “Find out what pleases the Lord”. Two themes are noted in this brief verse. First, a believer is to be discerning and finding. Paul in Romans 12:2 denotes “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what the will of God is.” There is a connection between discernment and pleasing God. This discernment is also important when taking communion (1 Corinthians 11:29).
Second, a believer is to please the Lord. Believers are to not live as reckless “people-pleasers” (Ephesians 6:6). Romans 8:8 clearly teaching us that unbelievers cannot please God. We are to live to uplift and serve others. Husbands and wives must consider how to please both, one another and the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32–34). However, the believer’s ultimate aim is to please God, not people (1 Thessalonians 2:4; 4:1). How, then, do we know what is pleasing to the Lord? This is what Paul has been writing about in his letter so far. In verse 8 and 9, Paul has urged his readers to live according to “all that is good, right and true.” This is a great summary of what is pleasing to the Lord. God is pleased by what is good. So we need to live our life in such a way that put bad behaviour behind us and strive to be morally good. This is right: it is in line with God’s standards in creation, as revealed in God’s word to us. And God is pleased by what is true. Fundamentally we as Christians should live in line with the truth of the gospel, telling the truth and doing what is true.
Paul is telling us to test our Christian walk. Paul gives us a measure- a standard- to use, when we are doing that testing. But the measure he gives us it not something we might naturally use. It is worth paying close attention to the standard Paul is giving us. Find out what pleases the Lord. Test to see what is pleasing to the Lord. Nothing less than this. This is the standard. This is the measure that gives value to everything in our Christian lives. And this is what we need to scrutinise and examine our lives by- not what is easily seen or measured by the standards of this world.
The question still is how can we please God? Let me take your attention to a Bible personality who pleased God to help us see how we too can live our life pleasing to God. In the Old Testament we read of Noah who lived a life that pleased God in every area of his life. In Genesis 6:9, we see “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God”. He was sincere and upright in his heart. He lived a blameless life. His conversation was not polluted by the corruptions of that age in which he lived. He walked according to God’s will in the ways of truth and righteousness. We read in the Bible that he enjoyed the sweet communion of God as Enoch had done before him.
In Genesis 6-22 and in 7:5 we read, Noah did everything just as God commanded him. That means Noah obeyed God. He did everything as God commanded him. He made the ark according to the pattern God gave him. He gathered together food for himself, his family and also for all the creatures and laid it up in the ark as directed by God.
When we read Genesis 7:4 and further on, we understand Noah trusted God in everything. God told him, “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” He had no idea what rain and floods even meant to be like but he simply trusted God. Even though people around him mocked, ridiculed and made fun of him, he did not deviate from the vision the Lord had given him. He trusted that what the Lord told would certainly come to pass.
In Genesis 8:20 we see “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” From this we understand Noah loved God and worshiped Him. When Noah and his family came out of the ark after the flood water receded, the first thing that Noah did was to build an alter for God- not a house for himself and his family. This showed the great love he had for the Lord. His first and greatest concern was for pleasing God and the glory of God. On the alter that he built, Noah sacrificed some of the clean animals as a thank offering to the Lord. In verse 21, we read that “the Lord smelled the pleasing Aroma.” The Lord was greatly delighted and well pleased with Noah’s worship.
Through Noah’s life we understand, Noah pleased God in and through his life style, through his thinking and walk with God. Noah pleased God in his obedience. Noah pleased God in his faithfulness. Does our lifestyle please God? Does our life make a positive influence and difference in others’ lives? Are you willing to obey God- no matter what, and please God in everything?
Before concluding, let me take your attention to Hebrews 11:6, it says “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”. You can never please God without faith. Our faith pleases God more than anything else. The Christian life dependent upon our faith. We need to stand on our faith. We need to live on our faith. Faith is loved and honoured by God more than any other single thing. The Bible teaches that Faith is the only approach that we can have to God. Our sins are forgiven because of our faith in the Lord. Our expectation and hope of heaven, our assurance of peace and happiness is because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
In order to please God, we must have faith in God. It does not matter how big our faith is, but rather where is our faith that matters. Is it in Jesus Christ, the son of God who died on the cross for our sins? When we come to Christ, the barriers between us and God are broken down. God Himself lives within us through His Holy Spirit. In other words we now know God and He knows us. We have a personal relationship with God. How we live daily affects our relationship with Almighty God. It is a truth that the Bible teaches us plainly. God so cares about us as a father cares for his children. He finds happiness in our obedience and becomes sad in our disobedience. So let us make it our aim to learn what pleases the Lord and live accordingly. As Christians, we must constantly test the standards for pleasing the Lord. We are to ascertain by testing what pleases the Lord. We need to know what applies to the Christian walk. The supreme end of the believer’s life is to glorify God. So we need to identify who you try to please. Discern what pleases God. Change from being men pleaser to God pleaser.