My son’s team was on defense and they lined up in their places opposite the offense. The opposing RB looked especially big. I was just beginning to raise the possibility that he was too old for this league when the ball was snapped. I quickly shut my mouth and watched intently as the ball was pitched to the big RB who was running a sweep to my son’s side of the field. The runner was flushed to the sideline. If he could get past Noah it would be a long gain, maybe even a TD. Noah struggled with the blocking wide-out; eventually shedding the block, eating a face full of stiff-arm, and holding on for dear life to record a solo tackle on a minimum gain.
I was pretty pumped!
This was Noah’s first year playing football. This was my son’s first real test as a football player. This was his first athletic accomplishment on the gridiron, but it was more than that. I had stood on the sidelines of fields and courts before applauding the success of others, but at that moment I experienced the emotion that accompanied the success of my son. There is a world of difference between applauding the victories of others and the intense delight of cheering the triumphs of my own sons. It is a unique and blessed experience to be so incredibly pleased by someone else’s success.
It is at such times, being pleasingly thrilled with the achievements of my boys, that I am compelled to consider this. If I, an earthly father, can know such a sensation of pleasure in the well-being of my sons, how does our Heavenly Father feel when we please Him? I believe that is a thought with which we should be revolutionized. The children of God living so as to please the Father God.
We live in such a time that overwhelmingly desires only the pleasing of self. Ours is a society of self-love, “pleasing ourselves” is the credo of our culture. All are encouraged to live by there own rules and to engage life without regard to the standards or rules of anyone else, not even God. The basic philosophy of this age can be summed up in two words: “me first.”
And this is not just a secular ideology; there are those who call themselves Christian who also trumpet this self-love dogma. This man-centered theology proclaims that Jesus will make your life carefree and painless; that Jesus just really wants you to become a better a salesman, a better ball-player, etc. Jesus just wants you to feel better about yourself, to improve your self-image, to put an end to your negative thinking.
It was Benjamin Franklin, not Jesus, who said, “God helps those who help themselves.” But from his pulpit and in his two best-selling books Joel Osteen has advocated that message, too, only his spin is more like: “God helps those who think well of themselves. Imagine yourself to be a winner, and someday you will be a winner! Visualize yourself in a big house or a Lexus, and one day you will find yourself with both!” In other words, you do not exist to please God. He exists to please you. In a world of “me-first” Christians must become reacquainted with the priority of pleasing God.
Osteen is not the only pastor to espouse this selfish, gospel-less Christianity. Robert Schuller is the leading evangelist of this self-love gospel. Here is one quote from his book Self-Esteem: the New Reformation, “Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be God-centered and not man-centered.” He goes on to write: “I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.”
That is as twisted and contrary to the Scriptures as one can be. Christ Himself preached, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15b). Why repent, unless you realize that you are indeed an unworthy sinner, dead in your trespasses and sins?
Does this mean that Christians must be miserable, long-faced, unhappy, gloomy people? Does being saved and serving God amount to unhappiness?
No! I’m not advocating that at all; neither do the scriptures. This is what I know from God’s Word: a genuine Christian, one who has been born again, old things have passed away and all things have become new; such a person will live his or her life not in order to please self but in order to please God Almighty! In so doing the person will be pleased, and able to live life joyfully and abundantly. As John Piper says, “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him. Even better, the Psalmist said, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
The Psalmist also wrote in Psalm 147:11, “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” The believer makes a grave mistake if he compartmentalizes life into the “religious/spiritual” sphere and the “physical” sphere. The totality of our lives should be involved in pleasing God; whether we eat, drink, or whatsoever we do, we labor so that we may be accepted of (pleasing unto) Him.
In a society of self, we must give way to the priority of God. The Lord Jesus said in John 8:29, “I do always those things that please [the Father].”Surely we can do nothing other than to follow in Christ’s steps.
All of the Christian’s desires, decisions, aspirations, and affections should be governed by a prior determination to please God. This desire to please God is distinct from a superficial interest in religious things that is really nothing more than a thinly veiled form of self-preoccupation. We exist to please God, not so that He may please us.
So, ask yourself, “Who am I trying to please?”