“So we make it our goal to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9
It may not always seem like it, but children really do want to please their parents. Just picture the little boy who beams with pleasure when his mom proudly puts the crayon-scribbled picture up on the fridge! Or the little girl who immediately looks up into the bleachers to see if Dad saw her first hit in softball.
Sadly, when we grow up without feeling the joy of parental affirmation, we often end up with misdirected drives to perform and please someone, somewhere, somehow. As a result, it’s possible to become twisted by unhealthy addictions to work or by immoral relationships. This tendency may even leave us spiritually weak and unprincipled, willing to violate biblical standards if it means we can please someone who is leading us down the wrong path.
This intrinsic drive to please the significant people in our lives ultimately reflects the fact that we were built to bring pleasure to someone outside of ourselves—namely our Creator God. I can’t think of a higher satisfaction in life than knowing that He indeed is pleased with me, knowing that I am right with Him and that He delights in my love for Him. And just in case you have always pictured God as being hard to please—perhaps like some people you know—think again. The psalmist tells us, “the Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149:4). In Romans 12:1, we learn that He is literally pleased when we offer our bodies as “living sacrifices,” and the writer of Hebrews assures us that when we offer a “sacrifice of praise” as well as the sacrifice of doing good and sharing with others, we can know the joy of pleasing God (Hebrews 13:15-16). This joy is not a surreal, head-in-the-clouds experience nor a short-lived, down-sided thrill package that our world offers based on self-indulgence. Rather, it is the long-term sense of stability and “all-rightness” that comes from a life bent on obedience to our heavenly Father and knowing that He delights in our cooperation with His will and ways.
Paul makes it clear that pleasing God also involves a commitment to serve those around us, looking to Jesus as our example. “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself” (Romans 15:2-3). When our time and energy is self-directed, focused only on our own welfare and pleasure, we miss the joy of serving others as a way of bringing pleasure to our heavenly Father. And, by the way, He never intended pleasure to be a goal of our lives, but rather a by-product of significant and constructive pursuits. It comes from fulfilling what we were built to do in terms of serving Him. It’s the joy of bringing happiness to others and knowing that when that is happening, God is pleased with us.
Take a tip from Paul. Make it your life pursuit to be busy pleasing the One who loves to be pleased with you!