I want to address an issue that came up not long ago in a comment here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. The post was “Grace Works Versus Law Works” and the comment, in part, said this:
You say, “We don’t obey to become pleasing to God, but to please God.” …
I have never done a good work thinking I’d please God. I would say we don’t do good works to become pleasing to God, but because he has become pleasing to us. In other words, I am so happy because of the grace God has given me, that I can’t help myself. The happiness bubbles out of me. That’s when I feel like I’m doing good works with the right motivation. When I’m doing them because I’m so pleased with God….
He’s commanded me to obey. It’s never crossed my mind that he’s pleased with my obedience….
So here’s my question. Do any of you have favorite verses about God being … pleased with us that I can look at and study?
First, I agree that we don’t do good works to become pleasing to God. The distinction I made in my post was between doing good works to become pleasing to God (works done because of law) and doing good works to please God (works done because of grace).
There’s nothing I can do to become pleasing to God. Not only would my motives be wrong in doing good, my efforts would be futile. My nature is sinful, and all the cleaning up I do amounts to rearranging dirt, not genuine washing.
For the person who believes, the work Christ did on the cross changes everything. Before, as we see in Romans 7, the wanting to do good was in me, but the doing ended up being that which I hated — and that which God hated, I might add.
Because of the new nature God gave me, because of the Holy Spirit in me, and because of the strength Christ provides me, I can now do the good I want to do. And why do I want to do good? To earn points with God? get jewels for my future crown? earn a spot closer to the throne?
No. The issue is still not about be becoming good or better or pleasing. Who I am in Christ is fixed. But because of what Christ has done, my response, as is true in any love relationship, is to want to give in return for what has been given me.
In one of the most amazing aspects of God’s love for us, He who needs nothing from us, asks something of us so that we can joyously give to Him as an expression of our love. Hence, my desire — a growing desire, not a fully mature thing — is to please Jesus.
Here are some of those favorite verses that touch on pleasing God:
I Thessalonians 4:1 – “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.”
II Corinthians 5:9 – “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.”
Colossians 1:10 – “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Ephesians 5:8-10 – “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Pleasing God, as I see it, is all about getting to know Him.
Young people in love do this same thing. Does he like his coffee black or with cream, pie for dessert or cake, the beach or the mountains, football or golf, Hondas or Chevys, and on and on.
Why learn all these things? In order to provide him with what he wants, in order to choose his preferences, in order to please him as often as possible.
When I stand before God washed of my sins, that should spark in me a response — more and more I should like what He likes, do what He does, speak as He speaks. When I do, I am not more pleasing to God, but He is pleased.