It took 38 years of watching the Texas Rangers, but a couple of years ago I finally heard the words that every baseball fan loves to hear about his team: “The Rangers are going to the World Series.” I wanted to hear that so much, I’ve actually made it my ring tone on my cell phone.
What gives you happiness and joy? Where do you find pleasure? What is it that you long to hear and do? In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul says that we have been redeemed by God so that we can do things that please Him.
When Paul says we are trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, he’s talking about examining and discerning the things that are pleasurable to the Lord. One translation says it is “discerning what is pleasing…” That’s a helpful nuance. We constantly want to be working to evaluate and consider and determine what is pleasurable to the Lord, so that we can do those things.
What does he mean with the phrase, pleasing to the Lord? He means, “acceptable” — so something that fits the parameters of the will of God. And he means satisfying — something that would be well thought of by another. What is interesting is that this word is used almost entirely in the NT to refer to the Lord — it is the quest of the believer to do things pleasing to the Lord. We have been created for His pleasure (and when we please Him, we will also know pleasure).
So what are the things that give God pleasure? The NT says living for Him (Rom. 12:1-2), sharing with others (Phil. 4:18), children obeying parents (Col. 3:20), and doing His will (Heb. 13:21) bring pleasure to the Lord. And of course, submission to Him and obedience to His will also bring Him pleasure. Paul follows this admonition in verse 10 with the declaration in verse 11 — “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness…” (Eph 5:11). So pleasing the Lord means we do not do things that are contrary to Him.
If we are going to live to please the Lord, in every decision we make, we want to ask, “is this decision something that will please the Lord or please me?” Someone has articulated it well in the pithy statement, “Only two choices on the shelf: pleasing God or pleasing self.”
We want to cultivate an active and continual awareness that every decision we make (and we make hundreds each day) should be framed by this perspective of pleasing the Lord.
Are you aware that your decisions fall into one of these two categories? Because we have been redeemed by Christ, we want to live to please Him.