The Weekend Word
A CHRISTIAN LIVES TO PLEASE GOD
. . . We are not trying to please men
but God, who tests our hearts.
1 THESSALONIANS 2:4
It is a familiar truth that every Christian’s life-purpose must be to glorify God. This is the believer’s official calling. Everything we say and do, all our obedience to God’s commands, all our relationships with others, all the use we make of the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives us, all our enduring of adverse situations and human hostility, must be so managed as to give God honor and praise for his goodness to those on whom he sets his love (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. Matt. 5:16; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:17).
Equally important is the truth that every Christian’s full-time employment must be to please God. This may be properly described as the Christian’s personal calling. Jesus did not live to please himself, nor may we (John 8:29; Rom. 15:1-3). Pleasing God in everything must be our goal (2 Cor. 5:9; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 4:1). Faith (Heb. 11:5-6), praise (Ps. 69:30-31), generosity (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16), obedience to divinely instituted authority (Col. 3:20), and single-mindedness in Christian service (2 Tim. 2:4) combine to form the prescribed way to do it. God both enables us for this kind of living and takes pleasure in our practice of it. It is his regular procedure in sovereign grace to give what he commands and delight in the result (Heb. 13:21; cf. Phil. 2:12-13).
From the life-controlling summons to please God, we learn the precise sense in which true godliness is both relational and creative. God relates to Christians not only as Father to child but also as Friend to friend. Abraham was called God’s friend (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; James 2:23); Christ calls his disciples his friends (Luke 12:4; John 15:14). The measure of God’s grace is that he makes friends with sinners; the measure of the Christian’s godliness is that one seeks to please one’s heavenly Friend, just as spouses seek to please each other in order to show their love (1 Cor. 7:32-35). Christianity is a love affair, and godliness is in essence a matter of expressing grateful, adoring love by seeking to please.
Creativity is part of God’s image in man, and it is meant to find expression in an enterprising style of life as we look for ways to show gratitude to God. Love will always ask whether more can be done to please, and more neighbor-love, more service of other’s needs, will always be a major part of the answer (1 John 3:11-18). If our plans for pleasing God involve risk, we should remember that Jesus’ parable of the talents commends those who risked their money in the market and condemns the practitioner of timid inaction (Matt. 25:14-30).
J.I. Packer; Concise Theology