Looking back her tennis career and all the fame that came with her 146 victories, Chris Evert Lloyd said one day, “We get into a rut. We play tennis, we go to a movie, we watch TV, but I keep saying [to my husband], ‘John, there has to be more…’”
The good news is, there is more.
The “more” is living for Christ. The best part of life is living for God’s honor and glory in all things. He is our all in all. And He is better than it all. There’s nothing better than living to please the Lord in all things.
That last statement was the focus of last Sunday’s sermon. As we think about pleasing God, here are some principles that must be understood to keep from living in an erroneous fashion.
Living for God’s pleasure is not meritorious living. We’re not attempting to curry His favor as if we deserve something from Him. We live to please Him because we want to honor Him above all else. We want Him, but we are not deluded, thinking that we are doing anything that merits his favor.
Living for God’s pleasure means to live in a way that is acceptable to Him. This same word “pleasure” is used in Romans 12:1-2, though in those verses it is translated with the sense “acceptable.” And that is exactly what living for His pleasure means — everything we do is done with a view towards conforming our lives to His character, calling, and commands.
While we live to please Him, we also understand that since He sees us in Christ (clothed with Christ’s righteousness), His pleasure in us cannot be increased. Living to please Him cannot merit his favor (the first principle mentioned), nor can it increase His favor. The believer in Christ is fully acceptable to God because (and only because) Christ is fully acceptable to God. So when we live for His pleasure it is never for the purpose of “keeping God happy with us,” or “keeping Him from becoming angry.”
Living to please Him means to live in obedience to Him so fellowship is maintained. While our acceptance cannot be increased — we can never become “more of a son” to the Father — yet our fellowship with Him can be impacted by our sin. So we live for His pleasure, doing deeds and thinking thoughts that are acceptable to Him, so that we remain in fellowship with Him. We live for Him so that we do not go astray from Him.
Living to please Him precludes living to please my flesh and the world. Living acceptably to the Lord precludes willful engagement in sin. I cannot be acceptable to the world and to God at the same time. And that means that a battle will ensue over every decision I make. The “hard” decision will be to please the Lord (though it will come with good consequences) and the “easy” decision will be to please the flesh (though it will come with hard consequences).
Every decision of every day is about whether I will live for King Jesus or King Self. Only living for King Jesus by doing that which pleases Him will prove to be of any eternal joy or value.