How can I please God?

Have you ever wondered whether God is happy with you? One could respond by saying that we can never please God and that is why our relationship to him is based on grace and not upon performance. While that is true, Paul counsels us to try and discern what pleases God (Eph 5:18) and challenges us to live in such a way that pleases him (1 Thess 4:1). Grace does not produce half-hearted performance, but a heart full of gratitude that simply wants to make our Father happy.

Haven’t you had such thoughts about others that you love? How can I make my kids happy today? How can I encourage my wife by doing something that I know will please her? Why does it seem performance-based when we want to do the same thing for God who has done so much for us?

So, what are the things that please God? Discerning the answer to that question will yield depth to our relationship with him. Here are some of the ways that I have found to please him: (I will list them for you but comment on the few that are especially meaningful to me.)

…Trusting in him (Hebrews 11:6) – God loves to be trusted. Over and over again in the Bible we see him responding to faith. Everyday there is something for me to trust him for and to remove from my worry list. Remember that the opposite of fear is not courage, but faith. Thus the areas of fear in our lives often highlight the areas in which we are not trusting our Heavenly Father.

…Spiritual Mindedness (Rom 8:8) – I don’t think this means having a daily beatific vision. Perhaps what we are doing right now describes it best—thinking how to please God, being concerned with what we know concerns him, being awed by him, being angry with the foolishness of people in power who think they are “tall poppies” (Australian for proud), and being sad when when God is not honored or when people of faith are ridiculed.

…Obedience to his commands (1 John 3:22)

…Doing good and sharing what you have (Heb 13:16) – My wife is recovering from knee replacement surgery and I’m on chemo and we don’t have a church community because of Covid. However, the Christians neighbors around us (who we don’t know very well because we moved here 9 months ago) have banded together and are providing meals for us. Something as simple as that pleases God (and me too).

…God’s people give him pleasure (Ps 149:4)

…He takes joy in those who reverence him, those who expect him to be loving and kind (Ps 147:11) – The force of this seems to indicate that he not only is happy but is worshipped when we have the expectation that he will be loving and good in whatever he does for us. In other words, we don’t deal with him like a tribal god who must be placated before he/she/it works on our behalf. We should not believe for an instant that we are bothering God with our request or must arouse his attention to our dilemma. We do not have a God who is unsympathetic to our pain but are encouraged to enter boldly into his presence and find grace and mercy in times of need. Why? Because he takes pleasure in his people, in their trust in him, and by their expectation of his love and kindness.

…A broken and contrite heart he will not despise (Ps 51:16, 17) – wherever we see genuine repentance evidenced, even in those who least deserve it (like King Manasseh), we see God responding in mercy and forgiveness. It almost seems that God has a default setting towards repentance. Whenever he sees it and in whomever he sees it, he responds in mercy.

…He is pleased with Jesus, and so those who follow Jesus please him as well (Matt 17:5)

…He is pleased when we praise the name of the Lord with a song and magnify him with thanksgiving (Ps 69:30, 31)

…He is pleased when we ask for wisdom and discernment and not power and riches (1 Kings 3:10)

…He is pleased with those who show mercy and kindness, just like he does (Matt 9:13)

…He is pleased when we live a godly life in our own household (1 Tim 5:3-5)

…He is pleased when we give cheerfully (2 Col 9:7) – He may take pleasure in our generosity but he LOVES a cheerful giver. Does it excite you to give your money away or do wish you had a rubber band on it so it would snap back to you? As for me, the offering is the most exciting part of a church service and that is why giving online or in a basket at the back takes away a very meaningful and vital part of worship. I’ve always loved the image of the little boy who did not have any money when the offering basket was passed, so he put it on the floor in front of him and stood in the basket. Perhaps that is why he loves a cheerful giver because the cheerful giver says, “here I am Lord, use me”. So as someone once said (I think it was me), “get in the basket before they put you in the casket.”

…He is pleased most by his work in us (Phil 2:11, 12) – Since it is God who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure, whenever we want to do his will and whatever we do to please him flows out of his marvelous grace in our hearts. The very fact that we are having this conversation right now must make our Father so happy, because apart from his work in our lives we wouldn’t give a rip (wouldn’t even care) about him.

Just a few thoughts on making our Father happy…hope they are helpful.