Last week I talked about how we don’t have to worry about offending God. The flip side is wondering if we are pleasing him and how to please him more. When you’re always concerned about how to please God you are also concerned that you may displease him, which can create tension and anxiety. Many Christians waste time and energy on this. But God isn’t like us, who are quick to take offense, get our feelings hurt and feel put out when someone either mistreats us or doesn’t meet our expectations. And he’s not constantly concerned about whether we please him or not, as if that’s all that matters. He’s much more mature than us!
God is pleased with us in the same way those of us who are parents are pleased with our children. Sure, they do things we don’t like; they are sometimes naughty and disobedient and even defiant. But do we love them less? We might be displeased for a little while, but as I recall, it was hard to stay upset with my kids for very long, no matter what they had done. In no time at all, it was hugs all around and many expressions of love going back and forth. I was not a better parent than God. His patience and kindness toward us go far beyond ours.
It’s possible for God to be displeased with our actions, and of course, grace is not a license to sin, but we need to remember he’s not like us. We don’t have to walk on eggshells with God because pleasing him isn’t something we need to be concerned about. As my favorite verse tells us: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).
Along this line are thoughts from David Seamands, a missionary to India:
“The servant is accepted and appreciated on the basis of what he does, the child on the basis of who he is. The servant starts the day anxious and worried, wondering if his work will really please his master. The child rests in the secure love of his family. The servant is accepted because of his productivity and performance. The child belongs because of his position as a person. At the end of the day, the servant has peace of mind only if he is sure he has proven his worth by his work. The next morning his anxiety begins again. The child can be secure all day, and know that tomorrow won’t change his status. When a servant fails, his whole position is at stake; he might lose his job. When a child fails, he will be grieved because he has hurt his parents, and he will be corrected and disciplined. But he is not afraid of being thrown out. His basic confidence is in belonging and being loved, and his performance does not change the stability of his position” (David Seamands, quoted in Neil T. Anderson, Mike Quarles and Julia Quarles, One Day at a Time: The Devotional for Overcomers [Ventura, CA: Regal, 2000], 231).