It was the bottom of the seventh inning, and the bases were loaded with two outs. My son’s little league team was winning by three runs. All they needed was one more out and the game was over. The batter promptly swats the ball into centerfield in the direction of my son. If he comes up cleanly with the ball he can make a throw to second base and the game is over. However, the unthinkable happens to him.
The ball skips under his glove and rolls all the way to the fence. All four runners score before he can retrieve the ball and his team loses by one run. As he made his way off the field, it was easy to see he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
I could sympathize with his feelings because the same thing happened to me thirty years earlier. Struggling for the perfect words to say, I simply placed my arm around his shoulders and said, “That’s a tough way to lose one, isn’t it son?” Before the stream of tears broke loose, he managed to say to me, “I just wanted to make you proud.” At that moment, I could not have been more proud of him!
Has such a thought ever been in your heart regarding your walk with the Lord? In our day of self-centered, feel-good, psychological preaching we are given formulas for how to please ourselves, but few mention how to live pleasing the Lord. The apostle Paul made pleasing the Lord a clear priority when he acknowledged in I Thessalonians 4:1, he had taught them “…how ye ought to walk and to please God.” If you examine the life and lips of the average Christian life, most believe it is both unrealistic and unattainable to please the Lord on a consistent basis.
Is the Lord really that difficult to please? Solomon made a choice for wisdom and it “pleased the Lord.”
Epaphroditus brought gifts to Paul in prison that were “well pleasing to God.” Enoch simply walked with God and “…had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Reading of those moments in Scripture, one thing becomes obvious to me: pleasing the Lord has more to do with the faithfulness of our heart than the fruitfulness of our hands. As you examine your life, just where do you stand when it comes to living a life pleasing to the Lord?
A life that pleases the Lord is a life sensitive of God’s will.
Twice in the life of Jesus an audible voice from heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” In both occurrences, it speaks of God’s approval. Such approval was explained by Jesus Himself in John 8:29, “…I do always those things that please Him.” Only a life full of conviction and free of distraction can remain steadfastly sensitive to God’s will. For the better part of a year, David was distracted by his sin with Bathsheba. It took barrenness and brokenness to make him tender and sensitive enough to write in Psalm 51:19, “Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness…” Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” However, when Solomon became insensitive to the Lord, he gained enemies and lost peace. Samson became unresponsive and lost his eyes. Jonah became hardened and lost his ship. A life without spiritual sensitivity loses purpose of direction and is the making of a defecting coward in the faith.
A life that pleases the Lord is a life surrendered to God’s will.
Paul wrote in Romans 15:3, “For even Christ pleased not Himself…” Here the word “pleased” speaks of being agreeable. It is a picture of someone who accommodates themselves to the desires, opinions, and interests of another. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.” It is difficult to please the Lord when you are more concerned about what everyone else is thinking. King Saul worried about the exit polls, and Lot just wanted to fit in with the crowd. Neither were able lead confidently because they could not live fully authentic and had to resort to their own methods. That is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:8, “…they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
May we ever be reminded that the economy of God knows no such thing as partial surrender. Paul warned young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4, that a good soldier must be totally committed “…that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” A man can never walk with a full heart until he can stand before the Lord with empty hands.
A life that pleases the Lord is a life sifted in God’s will.
As Hebrews 10 is coming to a close, Paul is speaking about maintaining patience, confidence, and faith while in the will of God suffering for Christ. In that context, he declares in verse 38, “…but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” It is a word describing a coward who shrinks away and hides through fear. The moment a man chooses to abandon the battle, he immediately forfeits both the victory and the crown. In I Peter 3:17, Peter acknowledges sometimes it is the will of God “…that ye suffer for well doing.” Hymn writer and minister Charles Seymour Robinson said, “There are times when God asks nothing of His children except silence, patience, and tears.” Having just returned from India where I was held in detention for preaching the gospel, I have come to this conclusion in my life. A man is neither fit nor worthy to feel the warmth of the Savior’s footprints who is not willing to walk where the Savior walked. Hebrews 11:6 states, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him…” Perhaps that is why the Lord has a crown of life for those “faithful unto death.”
Paul may have summed up pleasing the Lord best in Hebrews 13:20-21, “Now the God of peace…make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ…” The Lord can only be pleased when He has total control of our lives. It could be said that life is not as much about us pleasing the Lord as it is the Lord pleasing Himself through us. If left to please Him with only our frail humanity, opportunities appear to always skip under our grasp and simply leave us carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2008 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.