“When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Paul admonishes us in Romans 12:18 to do all we can to live peaceably with others. This verse in Proverbs gives us a good indication of how to accomplish that. Please the Lord. Sounds a bit general, so let’s do a little investigate by coming up with a shortlist of pleasing ways.
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart.
- Love others and treat them like you would want to be treated.
- Have sound doctrine and live by it.
- Have the right motivation and live by it.
- Keep your life “flesh-free”.
- Use common courtesy.
- Be a person of kindness and integrity.
- Be ready and willing to forgive.
- Mind your own business.
- Help those in need.
The list might go on and on, but it can be summed up by the great command to love God and to love others rightly. Enemies will have a hard time arguing with a life that does right. They may not be happy with us, but there can be a measure of peace between us, even if we disagree. We can agree to disagree and yet not be un-agreeable. We can gain the respect of others and bring glory to the Lord if our life exhibits His ways.
What about you? What would you add to the list of things that are pleasing ways? Does your life make for peace around you? Can you disagree without being disagreeable? Are your ways pleasing to the Lord?
“…or do I seek to please men?” Galatians 1:10
Sometimes, as God’s servants, we become “people-pleasers” and forget that above all we should be pleasing the Lord. Seeking to please men does not lead us into the will and favour of the Lord. It usually leads us away and into an unhappy trap characterized by discouragement, disillusionment, exhaustion and confusion.
Like in this verse, Paul is admonishing the Galatians to return to the gospel. It seems they have been torn away by others who wanted them to stray to another gospel. Paul reminds them of where they should stand and warns them about forsaking their doctrine in order to please another. He goes as far as to say, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (vs. 10) Those are pretty strong words. There is no real place for compromise. Either we are serving Christ, or, by trying to please others, we are not serving Christ.
Standing faithful to solid Bible doctrine will sometimes bring us into direct conflict. Jesus faced this and so did every apostle and disciple in Bible times and believers through out history as they stood for the truth of God’s Word. The warning against being a “people-pleaser” is a real warning. God requires whole-hearted devotion, not a fair weather faith. But he never said it would be easy or unchallenged.
When you are called upon to choose between pleasing men and pleasing God. Which do you choose? Can you stand true?
“…not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts.” I Thessalonians 2:4
Again, the comparison of pleasing men or God is brought to our attention. Here in the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul continues in the following verses to rehearse character qualities he adhered to as he worked among men. He did not use flattery (v 5). He was not self-seeking (v 6). He was gentle (v 7). He was generous and giving (v 8). He worked hard (v 9). He lived with integrity (v 10). He was an encourager and comforter (v 11).
These all sound like qualities that would please men, and surely they would, but Paul’s motivation did not lay there, but in a higher accounting. He lived by this standard because he knew the final account for his life and ministry would be before God alone. God would try his heart.
Christ again is our example. Jesus did everything right in order to please his Heavenly Father. And, though he was without sin, some men were still offended. Guess it is true, “You can please some people some of the time…...”
However, we can please God as we live with this truth in focus. We will all give account of ourselves unto God. (Romans 14:12) We need not compare ourselves by any other standard, or by what we see as the actions of others, because in the end we will all answer solely for ourselves – not our children, not our spouses, not our friends or enemies, but for ourselves alone.
What standards do you apply to your life? Are they pleasing to God? Do you judge yourself by God’s standard or men’s?
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
If our goal and motivation is that of Paul – to live so as to give a pleasing account to God – then it must be understood that the flipside would produce the contrary result. A life lived to the will of the flesh would result in an unpleasing account. To please God means to live our Christian life – yes, every area of our life – acceptable before God.
A quick study on the works of the flesh straight away defines and illustrates what works and actions are considered unacceptable before God. Have a quick read of these from Galatians 5:19-21: Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envying, Murders, Drunkenness, Revelling.
And Romans 1:29-31: Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness, Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity, Whispering, Backbiting, Hating God, Despiteful, Proud, Boasting, Disobedient to parents, Covenant breaking, Without natural affection, Implacable, Unmerciful.
It is amazing to see things we consider ordinary sins and big sins included in the same list. That is because ALL of the works of the flesh are not pleasing to God. Allowing them to be a part of our life emphatically means that we are not pleasing and cannot be pleasing to God.
Stop and think. What fleshly attitudes and sins are resident in your life? What if you had to give account of your life this moment? Would you be able to give a pleasing account? What needs to go so that you can be pleasing to God?
“But without faith it is impossible to please him…” Hebrews 11:6
To please or be pleasing is to prove oneself useful to the good of another. It is to win favour with others by our actions. Pleasing God by our life of faith brings Him the glory. He is pleased, as we trust Him fully. Truly, if we do not trust Him, he is not pleased.
We’ve been talking about actions that are pleasing, but it does go deeper than just our outward actions. There is to be an inward source for those actions else we might seem to be manipulative person or an “eye-pleaser” – one who does right on the outside while others are looking and then resort to the works of the flesh when we think no one will see. God is not pleased with this because He knows the heart – he sees the hypocrisy. We cannot hide from Him…all things are open to Him.
God wants us to do our dealings from a heart of faith. A heart that says, “I will do right…no matter the cost…out of love and trust in my Saviour.” He wants our motivation to be pure – not self-seeking.
The verse goes on to say that God will reward those who diligently seek Him. A heart and life that is pleasing to God is one that is right on the inside and that does right on the outside based solely upon the pure desire to honour and please God. “…with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 It is a life of integrity lived by faith.
Are you pleasing in your inward motivations? Do you act by faith and love without thoughts of manipulation or hypocrisy? Is God pleased with your true motivation in life and in service?