July 9, 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.
As I reflect on this passage from Ephesians, I find myself more and more impressed by something I might easily have missed. Verse 10 says, as we discussed yesterday, that we are to “find out what pleases the Lord.” This verse assumes that we have the capacity to please God. Or, to put it differently, God has the capacity to take pleasure in us.
Do you realize that you can give God pleasure? The God who created the universe, who spread out the Milky Way with a flick of his hand, who formed the Grand Canyon and the Himalayan mountains, who invented music and the ability to hear, who delights in goodness and holiness—this same God can take pleasure in you. Do you believe this? Do you live as if it is true?
If you’re like me, you find it more natural to think in terms of not displeasing God. You know that your sin grieves the Lord, so you seek to avoid sinning. You don’t want God to be unhappy, especially when it comes to you. It isn’t wrong to try not to displease the Lord, but it is an inadequate motivation.
You might also be wired to seek to do what’s right simply because it’s right. You may have been raised with a deep sense of duty, the conviction that you should always choose to do the right thing. Of course, as a sinner you fall short of this standard. But, even after you have received God’s grace through Christ, you are motivated by a strong inclination to do what’s right. Being motivated by righteousness isn’t wrong, either. It’s wonderful, but also inadequate.
A more complete motivation for right living takes seriously the implied good news of Ephesians 5:10: You have the ability to please the Lord. By what you do and say, by how you live, you can delight the heart of God. You can please God in your daily work, your daily relationships, and your daily rest, as well as in your daily prayers. The more you reflect on this amazing truth, the more you will be drawn to do that which pleases God.
Something to Think About:
Do you think of yourself as having the capacity to please God? Why or why not?
As you go about the business of your day, do you ever think that your actions can please the Lord?
If you were to think this way more consistently, how might your life be different at work? At home? In your community? In your times of rest?
Something to Do:
As you do something good today, pay attention to the fact that you are pleasing God.
Gracious God, I must confess that the thought of pleasing you boggles my mind. I’m very familiar with the desire not to displease you. And I often think in terms of honoring you. But the notion of giving you pleasure is not a familiar one. It seems arrogant to say that I can please the God of the universe. Who am I, after all? Yet, your Word is clear. You have given me the capacity to please you. You have chosen to let my behavior matter to you. How amazing!
O Lord, help me to embrace this thought, to consider the opportunity I have to please you. Stir up in me a longing to give you pleasure through every word, every deed, every thought, every desire. May I please you when at work and at rest, with my friends and my family, in my striving and my dreaming, in all that I do. To you be all the glory . . . and the pleasure! Amen.
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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.