July 8, 2019 • Life for Leaders
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
I’m a naturally curious person. When I hear about some new idea, product, or experience, I’m eager to find out more. Of course the Internet is a place of adventure for someone like me. With lots of persistence and a little luck, I can find out almost anything I want to know through carefully crafted Google searches. (Of course I can also run into lots of nonsense online, too!)
Ephesians 5:10 encourages us to be people who “find out.” In the NIV, it reads, “[Live as children of light . . .] and find out what pleases the Lord.” The Greek verb translated as “find out” (dokimazein) means “to examine, test, approve, or prove.” It suggests the use of our mental faculties to learn about something, to consider it carefully, and to make a wise and sober judgment about it.
The “something” we are to find out about is “what pleases the Lord.” Ephesians 5:10 could be translated, “[Live as children of light] . . . by finding out what pleases the Lord.” In other words, living and finding out are not two parallel activities, but rather two deeply interconnected ones. We will live as children of light by finding out what pleases the Lord. When we find out what pleases the Lord, we will be able to live as children of light. Our actions and thoughts are inseparable. We need to think rightly in order to act rightly.
These days there is a sad shortage of thoughtful finding out. News media get attention from a rush to judgment, not from careful weighing of that is true. Social media exacerbates the problem. If you want to get lots of visitors online, you don’t have to take the time to find out what’s right. Rather, you want to be the first person out there saying something inflammatory or outrageous. Thus, the biblical call to find out what pleases the Lord requires a counter-cultural commitment to thoughtfulness, patience, and persistence. It demands that we learn to be open before God, or, as my friend Terry Looper says, “to get neutral.” We need to surrender our desire to project our pleasures onto God so that we might truly find out what pleases the Lord.
Something to Think About:
Can you think of a time recently when you have intentionally worked to find out what pleases God? If so, how did you do this? And why?
Practically speaking, what are some ways you can find out what pleases God?
Something to Do:
If you are facing a significant decision today, are you willing to take the time to “find out” what pleases the Lord? If so, prayerfully work on surrendering your will and preferences to God. Ask the Lord to help you “get neutral” as you seek his guidance.
Gracious God, I would like to live in a way that reflects your light into the world. I want to be fruitful, to fill my life with all goodness, all righteousness, and all truth. So help me, I pray, to find out what pleases you. May I learn to set aside my own desires so that I might truly seek your desires. By your Spirit, show me how to live and empower me to live in this way for your glory. Amen.
P.S. from Mark:
Terry Looper has written an excellent, practical book on “finding out” what pleases the Lord. You can find my review of his Sacred Pace here, where you will find a link if you wish to purchase the book. Also, Terry and I have co-authored a learning resource on Fuller’s new formation platform: check out Developing a Sacred Pace in Business and the FULLER Leadership Platform here.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
God’s Favorite Smell
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.