“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV).
We were created, designed to please God. Just as a clay vessel is designed with a specific purpose in mind – whether as a dish for the dinner table or a jug to pour water from- you and I were created by God to serve special purposes. In discovering and fulfilling these purposes, we give Him pleasure, and rise to our full potential stature as Christians.
The Russian nun, Baroness Catherine de Hueck Doherty, in writing of her spiritual experiences, mentions how she had to progress from merely accepting the will of God for her life, to gladly embracing it. The difference is this – in the first we are resigned to going where He sends us and doing what He bids us, but in the second, we learn to rejoice in doing His will, however unpleasant this may first seem.
This is not an easy lesson to learn. Our flesh desires something and indeed, these desires seem natural, even legitimate; so we might feel that we are being unfairly deprived of what is due to us, in fulfilling the will of God. But Christian life is all about giving up our own first choices, and choosing God’s, and so becoming more and more conformed to the image of His Son, who laid down His will – even to death on the cross.
As we learn to give up our will – happily, rather than grudgingly, many things will change in our Christian lives. For one, we will cross the bridge from spiritual childhood to maturity. While children are loved by the Father, cared for and protected from the evil one, the more mature ones – or young men as John describes them – are able to actively overcome the evil one. Second, we will learn to pray more powerful prayers, which spring from a heart eager to please God, rather than self – and such prayers are swiftly answered. Third, the great joy that Jesus promised becomes real to us, only when our wills are surrendered to the Lord in this way.
When we embrace God’s will for our lives, we become pleasing to Him, and so fulfil the purpose of our existence. All creation exists for His pleasure, as the 24 elders who sit around the throne of God acknowledge –
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelations 4:11 KJV).
So, we were created to bring pleasure to the heart of God. When we recognise this calling and embrace it as the prime purpose of our lives, we will receive grace and divine enablement to fulfill this purpose.
The desire to please God is indeed the key to divine favour and much grace as Moses discovered – “Now if I have indeed found favour in Your sight, please teach me Your ways, and I will know You and find favour in Your sight.” (Exodus 33:13 HCSB).
In reply to this request God promised His grace and His continuing presence with Moses and his people. So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name” and “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:17, 14 NKJV).
The Presence of God brings rest to His people, just as a mother’s presence brings contentment and peace to a little child. Our souls find rest and happiness in the intimate embrace of God. As we cast our lot into the camp with Christ, and live only to please God, supernatural power and enablement will be ours. This simply means that it will no longer be difficult, but easy to do and be what God wants us to do or be. Victory over sin, the devil and the flesh will no longer be a distant hope, but a present reality.
It all begins with a heartfelt cry, a simple prayer – “God show me how to be pleasing in Your eyes. Please increase my desire to please You.”