Find Out What Pleases the Lord
by Jacob Hudgins
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord”(Eph 5:8-10, NIV).
Christians are not the people we once were. The transformation from darkness to light that has occurred within us has impacted us deeply, and we are still working through its implications. Yet perhaps no change is as sweeping as the shift from doing what makes us happy to “(finding) out what pleases the Lord.”
Pleasing God is different from trying not to make him mad. “Find out what pleases the Lord” moves our perspective from fear of disappointing him to eager service. We want to make him happy! There is a difference, for example, in the marriage where a wife simply tries not to anger her husband and one where she actively attempts to please him. His priorities become our priorities, and we find not only that we have made him happy, but that we live happier lives too!
Pleasing God is very practical. Sometimes we mistakenly think pleasing God is abstract doctrine about salvation and conversion. The truth is that God gives us clear indications of what pleases him—and they are things we can all do. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”(Heb 13:16). Any time we sacrifice—for others (Phil 4:18), or in worship—we make God happy! When we take care of our parents as they age, we make God happy (1 Tim 5:4)! When we pray for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-3), give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7), and suffer for doing right (1 Pet 2:20), we make God happy! Amazingly, little things that little people like us do for God please him!
Pleasing God requires discernment. “Find out what pleases the Lord.” The difficulty comes in learning to read the various situations of our lives and “discern”(ESV) the will of Jesus. The Hebrew writer describes the mature Christian this way: “those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”(Heb 5:14). We apply God’s priorities to our families, and workplaces, and recreation. What would it please God for me to do in this situation?
Christians are no longer governed by their own will, but one that is far better! May God bless us to “find out what pleases the Lord!”