He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?- Micah 6.8
What is the best thing in the world? To please its Creator. What is His will? To fulfill what He has commanded, that is, to live rightly and dutifully to seek for the eternal; for duty and justice are the will of Him Who is dutiful and right.
- Columbanus, Sermon III, Irish, 7th century
In case we’ve lost sight of it, God has expectations for us, and they relate to pleasing Him above pleasing ourselves.
If we think that the life of faith is about pleasing ourselves, we’ll never find full and abundant life, because we will never be fully pleased or satisfied with anything we might imagine, possess, or achieve.
We’ll always be whining to God about some inconvenience, discomfort, slight, or oversight that we would very much like Him to redress so that we could, you know, be happy.
But what God requires of us is not that we be happy, but that He be pleased with the way we live. When, with much strenuous effort and constant struggle, our lives begin to reflect the righteousness, justice, kindness, and humility that constitute the pleasure of the Lord, then we will begin to know full and abundant life.
It’s not that anything we might do actually brings pleasure to God. Rather, it is that when our lives are in sync with the expectations of God, then we enter into His pleasure – the pleasure He has in Himself – and we know what real participation in God. We please God because He brings us into His pleasure, seeing, as He does, the image of His own Son refracted in us.
The life we most earnestly desire does not consist in things or conditions, but in God. When we please God, when our lives refract His glory and we are conformed to the image of His Son, then the joy we know in the pleasure of the Lord is unspeakable, indescribable, and unlike anything this world can provide.
Christian life is God-centered first of all, and only secondarily does it concern our needs or wants. When all we seek is the Lord, when all we want is to please Him, and when all our efforts and exertions are bent on sharing in His pleasure, then and only then will we know the fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore that we can never find in created things (Ps. 16.11).
Such life comes only from being in the presence of God, presenting our lives to Him through His Spirit and Son, according to His Word, and discovering that He is pleased with us, after all.
Sound like works? It is works – not to attain salvation, but to express it and enjoy it.
Psalm 118.1-6 (St. George’s Windsor: “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”)
Thank the Lord, His love endures! All to whom His love is sure,
All who fear Him day by day, let them thanks and praise now say!
Out of my distress I cry; He will hear me from on high.
He will free me from all fear. What can man do to me here?
Bring me into Your pleasure, Lord, that I may know my life to be pleasing to You.
T. M. Moore