Talk about Someone who has everything! Finding a gift that will please God can seem challenging! But thankfully the Bible tells us not only what God hates (such as in Proverbs 6:16-19) but what He delights in as well.
And best of all, what pleases God is also what will make us happiest and most satisfied. Ultimately we will be most fulfilled when we fulfill God’s purpose for our lives—because He loves us and wants the best for us forever!
So let’s look at seven ways the Bible tells us we can please God.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
This passage identifies faith—belief in God and believing He will do what He says He will do—as a prerequisite for pleasing God. It also gives a prime example of this kind of faith: Enoch (verse 5). Enoch lived in the increasingly evil world before the Flood, but he didn’t go the evil way other people were going. Instead, he “walked with God” and “he pleased God” (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).
Enoch not only believed in the Creator God, he believed God would come to earth with “ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 1:14-15) and make everything right. Enoch knew that ungodly deeds bring evil results and must be replaced by godly deeds—walking the way God walks—for this world to experience real peace and joy.
When we believe in God and believe what He says, we will also be pleasing to Him.
(Our bimonthly Discern magazine covers issues like this regularly. We’d be happy to give you a free subscription to Discern. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide; print subscriptions are currently available in the United States, Canada and much of Europe.)
BE SPIRITUALLY MINDED.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8).
The Bible contrasts two mind-sets: the normal, human one (the fleshly, carnal mind) and the one led by the Spirit of God (the spiritual mind, verse 9). Thus having the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and leading us is another prerequisite for pleasing God.
In Acts 2:38 the apostle Peter summarized the process God has set for us to follow to receive His Spirit: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” You can study this vital process in more depth in our free booklet Change Your Life!
Leading up to the passage in Romans 8, the apostle Paul explained his own experience with the two mind-sets. As challenging as he shows the process of change is in Romans 7, he makes clear that Jesus Christ will deliver us (verse 25) and that as a result of the change we become beloved “children of God” (8:16-17). Does this please God? Yes! Jesus said there is “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7). God loves to add to His family.
“The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11).
It’s not that God delights in having us be terrified of Him. Psalm 147 describes God as the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (verse 3). The passage praises His mercy, His knowledge (He knows the names of all the stars!) and His power to save the humble (verses 4-6). The Bible tells us to fear God, not because it is good for Him, but because it is good for us to accurately recognize that He is more powerful than anything else. Acknowledging this shows our deep respect for Him.
The proper fear and respect of God will motivate us to avoid sin (Exodus 20:20). It reminds us that God will hold us accountable for our actions.
Fearing God allows us to rely on Him and revere Him—which can deepen our love for the All-Powerful God who cares enough to stoop down and deliver a puny little human like me!
For more about what it really means to fear God, see the article “Fear of the Lord: What Does It Mean?”
STUDY AND FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST’S EXAMPLE.
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
During a vision of the future Kingdom of God known as the transfiguration, God impressed on Peter, James and John the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Jesus truly was the Son of God, and there is no one who has pleased God more! We should all hear Him and follow His example.
Jesus said He always did “those things that please Him” (John 8:29), so we should study the four Gospels to learn how we, too, can please God.
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
In this passage, the prophet Samuel expressed God’s displeasure with Israel’s first king Saul. Saul had disobeyed God’s direct command with the excuse that “the people” had wanted to give what should have been destroyed to God instead. But God doesn’t want our physical gifts if we are going to break His laws to give them!
Again, God doesn’t command us to obey just because it is good for Him, but because it is good for us (Deuteronomy 10:13). His laws and commands are beneficial; and as a result of obeying Him, we grow in godly, righteous character—we become more like Him!
The fact that obeying God is pleasing to Him is expressed in various ways throughout the Bible. God has “pleasure in uprightness,” He will bless those who “keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me” and who “abstain from sexual immorality” and avoid breaking any of God’s commandments (1 Chronicles 29:17; Isaiah 56:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3).
DO GOD’S WILL.
“[May God] make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:21).
What is God’s will? God’s desires, His commands and His plans are expressed throughout the Bible. In fact, the Bible was given to us to show us His will and to help us in a sense read His mind. Studying the Bible, meditating on it and praying about it are keys to gaining deeper understanding of His will.
God’s will for us goes beyond just knowing what He wants. It involves doing “every good work”—working at maturing spiritually and becoming more like God (Matthew 5:48).
Jesus Christ set the ultimate example of doing God’s will when He faced the terrible scourging and crucifixion for our sins, yet prayed, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). He was willing to give Himself totally to show His love and to do His Father’s will.
We must seek God’s help to always do His will as well.
GIVE THE SACRIFICE GOD WANTS.
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
We saw earlier that God rejected sacrifices that were gained through disobedience. But there are sacrifices that He is “well pleased” with, including giving praise and thanks to Him and sharing with others. These reflect His teaching on love expressed in the two great commandments that summarize the rest of His law:
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
THE FATHER’S GOOD PLEASURE
No matter how much we give God, we can never come close to scratching the surface of what He has done for us—much less what He wants to do for us. In this life He offers awesome benefits, such as:
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).
And in the future, He has an incredible gift in store for His faithful flock:
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
One of the most exciting descriptions of the utopian Kingdom of God was recorded by King David, a man after God’s own heart. He wrote, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
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