Study 3 MAKING IT OUR AMBITION TO PLEASE HIM
Key Verse: “We make it our ambition to please Him.”
(2 Corinthians 5: 9-lit.)
The constant aim of everyone who really knows the Lord should be to be well-pleasing to Him – look up John 8:29, and compare John 13:16. Could anyone, anywhere, have a greater ambition than this? Is it your ambition to please Him? – for here, surely, is the secret of successful living. In this series we are considering ten of these “secrets”, but it could rightly be said that all ten are summed up in the theme of this study. There is nothing greater than living day by day a life which is well-pleasing to the Lord. See what the Holy Spirit has recorded about Enoch – Genesis 5:22-24 and Hebrews 11:5. All down the ages there have been men and women whose supreme ambition it has been to please God. Most people today are bent upon pleasing themselves – compare Judges 17:6; 1 Corinthians 10:5; and 2 Timothy 3:4; but there are those who are seeking to fulfil God’s conditions of a life that is well-pleasing to Him.
1. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS FOR PLEASING GOD?
We must be born again. Look up Romans 8:8, and compare this with John 3:5. Every man and woman is “controlled by the sinful nature”, and while we are “living according to the sinful nature” (Romans 8:5) we can never please God. The first need, therefore, is to be born again, so that we are “controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit” (Romans 8:9).
We must separate ourselves from all sinful and doubtful things. When we are born again we become children of God (1 John 3:1); but the Christian life is a warfare, and we are soldiers – look up 2 Timothy 2:3-4. The lives of worldly Christians are full of sinful and hindering things, but those who wish to please Him disentangle themselves from the things which hinder them in their Christian life.
We must dedicate our lives to Him. Look up Romans 12:1, and notice the words, “holy and pleasing to God”. Separation from sinful and doubtful things is negative, but the dedication of ourselves to the Lord is positive. Have you ever presented your body to the Lord? Have you handed over to Him the “parts” of your body (Romans 6:13) – your hands, feet, eyes, ears, lips…in other words – yourself?
We must be good witnesses. God has put us in trust with the gospel, and what a sacred trust it is! The gospel is for everybody, and our whole business is to make it known – look up 1 Thessalonians 2:4. Notice that Paul says, “…we speak…” Do we speak? Perhaps we need to pray the prayer of the psalmist in order to please Him – look up Psalm 51:15. Believers who witness to the Lord’s grace and power, by lives which are consistent and by lips which are ready to speak for Him, are well-pleasing to the Lord.
We must be obedient. Look up Colossians 3:20. If it is well-pleasing to earthly parents when their children obey them, how much more must it please the Lord when His children obey Him? Obedience is very important – look up 1 Samuel 15:22, and compare John 2:5; 14:15; and Acts 9:6.
We must have faith in God. In Hebrews 11:6 we are told that unless we have confidence in God we cannot please Him. Thank God, we can trust Him – not only for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), but for food (Psalm 34:10); not only for salvation (Acts 4:12), but for the supply of our every need (Philippians 4:19)!
We must be large-hearted. Look up Hebrews 13:16. One translation renders this: “Don’t forget to be kind and liberal” – full of love, sympathy, understanding, readiness to help, encouragement, unselfishness – compare Romans 12:13 and Galatians 6:6. This is the successful Christian life in action!
2. WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF PLEASING GOD?
The most wonderful result is that if we make it our ambition to please Him, we shall have His smile upon our life – compare John 8:29 and Matthew 3:17. The Lord Jesus is the Son of God in an unique sense; but every Christian is a son of God through faith in Him (Galatians 3:26). How wonderful to have God’s smile upon our life! There are three practical results of pleasing God:
Answers to prayer. Look up 1 John 3:21-22, and notice why we are so sure that God will hear and answer our prayer. Notice also the word “anything”, for this covers all our needs. This promise is very challenging, for it not only tells us the way to get our prayer answered, but it explains why some of our prayers are not answered!
Enemies at peace. There is a wonderful promise in Proverbs 16:7; and note again that the blessing promised is conditional upon our being well-pleasing in His sight – look up Romans 12:17-21. It may well be that in the matter of human relationships you need to prove the Lord on these verses!
Special overcoming power. In Ecclesiastes 7:26 a special temptation is referred to; but if deliverance is promised from this evil, surely it is promised from every evil – look up 1 Corinthians 10:13, and compare 2 Timothy 4:18.
3. WHAT ARE THE MOTIVES WHICH SHOULD CONSTRAIN US TO PLEASE HIM?
- (1) Even the Lord did not please Himself (Romans 15:3).
(2) Only thus can we glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).
(3) The Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13).
But be sure to note this: We cannot please Him in our own strength – see Philippians 2:13!