Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some Thoughts About Pleasing God

I am going through Celebrate Recoveries step studies.  (Why?  Isn't it obvious why?  I live to eat instead of eat to live.)  One of the questions in this week's lesson caused me to stop and consider something about pleasing God.  The question doesn't really seem to have anything to do with pleasing God, but the way I answered it got me thinking.

We say that we can't earn our way to heaven.  This is, of course, a very true statement.  There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor when it comes to salvation.  The Bible says that God is "no respecter of persons."  God doesn't look more favorably on one person more then another because of what they do.  No one can earn God's favor.

I imagine that most people reading this will be in agreement with what I said.  There is a problem however.  Though what I said is not wrong I believe the argument may be used out of context.  I think I have fallen into the trap I am going to reveal.

You see, if there is nothing we can do to earn God's favor then why try to do what is right?  Why live a selfless lifestyle?  Why try to emulate Jesus?  I mean it doesn't get one any closer to salvation.  I believe this misuse of a concept has damaged our Christian culture.  We use an argument concerning salvation to justify disobedience to God.

People around us might be surprised to learn that we deliberately disobey God because nothing in our outward life even hints at deliberate disobedience, but we are careful to maintain and outward appearance that gives no hint to what is really going on inside.  Inside we are selfish and part of our maintaining of an illusion is motivated by this selfishness.

Somewhere along the line we forgot all about what it means to please confusing it with earning favor.  What I mean is, we simply say we can't earn God's favor and therefore justify our selfish lifestyle never once thinking that our actions might actually please God.  We forget about how important it is to please even though it earns us nothing.

I suppose there are different ways to please and different reasons why we please.  The pleasure I am speaking of is that which is really a byproduct of love.  For example.  I love my father and there is an innate desire in me to please him; to make him proud.  I am not trying to earn anything.  Some might want to argue that I am trying to seek his approval.  I admit that there might be some of this involved, but overall I am not trying to earn anything that would benefit me from pleasing him.  I please him because I am his son and I desire to be a person he is proud of and can proudly say of me "That's my boy!!"  I want to do things my dad does.  I want to be identified as being a product of him.

So here's where I am going with this.  Many of us have either forgotten or never understood that we can actually try to please God and it has nothing to do with earning anything.  We say pride is a sin, and it is if it is selfishly motivated, but I do believe that God wants to be proud of us.  I want God to be proud of me.  I have forgotten that this is an important aspect of my relationship with God.

What motivates us to obey God?  It can't be the expectation that good works earns us salvation.  Salvation is a free gift to anyone willing to accept.  Our motivation must be in that we want to make God proud.  We have got to have the attitude of wanting to please him.  Just as a father devotes his life to his children producing a deep seated love, so has God given something very precious so that we might have eternal life with him.  His gift was an expression of his unfailing love.  We love God because he first loved us.  Our love needs to be shown.  So how are you going to please God today?  Don't try to earn his favor.  You already have it.  Just try to please him and make him proud.

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