Do you ever feel like you spend a lot of your day trying to manage other people’s expectations and keeping them happy? It can be exhausting! Maybe you long for a season of life when you can just focus on your own needs and seek to please yourself. But the reality is that would be no less exhausting, because we were created to orient ourselves around pleasing God. The New Testament regards this as a high priority. Consider these six biblical truths.
1. Pleasing God should be the aim of your life.
Our lives are to be oriented around our Savior. Jesus rescued us so that “those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). We don’t seek to please God, so that he’ll love us and bring us into his family. We seek to live a life pleasing to God because he is our Father who loves us and has adopted us. In all of life, “we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
2. Pleasing God means giving him your undivided attention.
We all get pulled in a hundred different directions on any given day. But where is your focus? Who has your heart? Paul exhorted Timothy to have the mindset of soldier, giving God his undivided attention. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). Yes, we still need to attend to the needs of this life, but we shouldn’t get tangled up. We are called to live free from the anxieties of this world, focused on “how to please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32).
3. Pleasing God doesn’t mean just doing the right things, but doing them in faith, by the Spirit.
Of course God delights in our obedience, but that means more than just doing the right things. God is pleased when our hearts are motivated by holy desires. God is pleased when we live in faith! “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). And of course, to walk in faith and please the Lord, we must walk in the Holy Spirit, not in our flesh. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:8-9).
4. Pleasing God means you don’t center your life on pleasing others.
It is so easy to get caught up in the people-pleasing game – living to make other people happy. But we can’t live our lives to please others and please God at the same time. As Paul reflected, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). We are called to live for our Savior in all things – “not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
5. Pleasing God means you seek to please others above yourself.
God cares deeply about the people in our lives, and so pleasing him is not an excuse to dismiss the people around us. When you live to please God, and not your own selfish needs, it means you put other people first – in a God-honoring way. That means we don’t give them what they want, but what God wants. Again Paul says, “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31-33). After all, this is the way Jesus lived. “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself” (Romans 15:1-3).
6. Pleasing God is a life-long process to grow in.
Pleasing God should be the orientation of our life; but we will never be fully pleasing to him until we see him face-to-face and become perfect as he is perfect. But until that time, we seek to walk in a way that pleases him, growing by his Spirit every day. “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
Christian, God loves you and delights in you through the work of Christ! Rest in your eternal place before him. And now, in this life on earth, seek to walk in a way that is pleasing to your Father.