What Pleases God?

It was 3 a.m. and I was lying in bed trying to pray. A few days earlier, Pete had been in a horrific accident halfway around the world, and I couldn’t sleep, knowing he was in the hospital so far away. But as I once again attempted to formulate a prayer for his healing, God interrupted me with a voice so clear, I couldn’t have missed a single word: “Don’t pray for Pete’s healing. I’ve got that covered, and lots of other people are praying for that. Just thank me. Pete is my son, and with him I’m well pleased!”

Wow. As Pete had been attending a huge missions conference at the time of the accident, I knew that thousands of people around the world were praying for his recovery. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to be one of them. (How often does God tell you not to pray for something?) And I was more than grateful that I still had a husband!

But it was the last part that really caught my attention. God quoted Himself to tell me that He was pleased with Pete. (See Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:11, and Luke 3:22.)

At this point, we had been married for 18 years. I knew Pete pretty well—and I knew he wasn’t perfect! Yet, God was pleased with him. Why?

Don’t get me wrong. I was very pleased with Pete too! I thought (and still think) that he’s a fabulous husband and an amazing Godly man. But I wondered, what was it about Pete that so pleased God?

At the risk of completely embarrassing my husband, I believe it’s because, like King David, he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

What does that mean? David wasn’t perfect either. He disobeyed God by ordering a census (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21). He didn’t treat the ark with appropriate respect (2 Samuel 6). And finally, he committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11).

In 1 Kings 11:4 and again in 1 Kings 15:3, David is described as being “fully devoted to the Lord his God.” That devotion expressed itself in a variety of ways, but it was the attitude of his heart that pleased God.

As you read the Bible, you’ll find that it’s full of specific ways to please God. Here are a few to get you started:

  • “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
  • “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
  • “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.” (Romans 12:1)
  • “No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
  • “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
  • Plus, see Romans 8:5-8, Galatians 1:10, Colossians 1:9-12, and 1 Thessalonians 4.

We do well when we follow those examples. But if we don’t share David’s heart attitude of wanting to please God, just going through the motions isn’t going to work.

Note that David’s devotion didn’t save him. Scripture is clear that we’re saved by faith. Even before the life of Jesus, when David confessed his wrong-doing, he trusted God to forgive him. He didn’t try to come before God in his own righteousness, but rather relied on God’s righteousness. We can’t earn favor with God.

While we don’t have to make God happy so that He will love us— as believers, we want to make God happy because we love Him.  He already loves us more than we’ll ever comprehend, simply because He made us.

 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

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