Whom Can I Please?
By Dot Bowen
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” Luke 7:9 (ESV)
We discussed a man who amazed Jesus in last week’s devotional. This week, let’s explore the question, “Can man please God?” And if so, how can we please God? It’s hard for me to imagine doing anything to please God, but He says I can. If asked for my personal opinion about what I think pleases God, I might say serving others, not being selfish, going to church, tithing, Bible study, praying, ministry, and all religious activity. Seriously, don’t you think one or all these things would please God? I do believe God is pleased when we participate in spiritual disciplines. But surprisingly, the writer of Hebrews takes pleasing God a little deeper; in Hebrews 11:6, he writes, “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” Unless we have faith, it’s impossible to please God. Notice there is no mention of “doing” for God when it comes to pleasing God. Oh, how we love to “do” for God! And God loves for us to serve Him, but it is not our service that is the key to pleasing Him. As a matter of fact, if we don’t have faith, it’s impossible. Impossible is a strong word!
How can we please God? The key to pleasing God is faith. I find the thought of pleasing a holy God nothing short of a miracle. If you have ever tried to please someone, you know how impossible it can be. Even God doesn’t please everyone! So what makes us think we can? Yet, God can be pleased. And it is faith that pleases God.
I can’t think of faith without remembering Abraham. Abraham is called the father of faith and stands above all the other amazing men in the Bible as having enormous faith. God told him to leave his father’s home, and then He would tell him where to go. So Abraham left. Seriously, God said go, and Abraham went! Can you imagine what Sarah thought when Abraham began to pack but couldn’t tell her where they were going? For a long time I didn’t understand why God didn’t tell Abraham exactly where he was going. But if God had provided an itinerary, Abraham may have put his faith in the schedule more than God. If Abraham had been able to print out a map and a plan, his focus would’ve been on the map rather than God. Abraham and Sara had to have faith in God’s ability to direct them.
It’s easy for me to say, God, I’m willing to go, but first tell me where you want me to go. God told Abraham to leave, and he left without further instruction. Now that’s an example of faith! Scripture describes faith as the things hoped for and the conviction of what is not seen. If we cold see and know in detail what God was doing in our lives, we would not need faith to trust Him. Faith believes in a God who is faithful. Abraham trusted God enough to take the first step, and God led him each step of the way. God asks us to trust (have faith in) Him when we cannot see what He is doing.
Oh, how we love a plan! And planning can be great. But our plans are not necessarily God’s plans. And God’s plan always trumps our plans. If Abraham had not obeyed God, he would have missed out on all the blessings God had prepared for him. Abraham pleased God by trusting Him. We please God when we put our faith and trust in Him even when we don’t understand or know the plan. We get so caught up in what we should and shouldn’t do that we miss the whole point. The Christian life starts with faith, and we are to live by faith. When we trust God more than anything else, we please Him. I’m so thankful I don’t have to try to please man because I find that nearly impossible. I can please God by putting my faith in the God who loves me, died for me, and called me. When I say yes to God by faith, He is pleased. Because faith pleases God!
Further Reading Genesis 12:1-4; Acts 7:2-8; Romans 4:9-22; Galatians 3:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-6