For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:8-10.

Did you catch the last sentence in the passage above? “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” What does it mean to live a life that pleases God? If you are like most people, that simple question may leave you tongue-tied. It’s likely that you never thought about the question in such simple form. But, if you were pressed for an answer, you would probably list a number of external behaviors as those things necessary to please God: There would be any number of “do’s” and any number of “don’ts”. But is that how to please God?

This week we talked about seeking man’s approval and applause rather than God’s. Most people would probably believe that it is far easier to get the approval of friends relatives, co-workers and spouses than God. Yes, we feel some degree of forgiveness and maybe acceptance, but to think that the Lord is actually pleased would seem to be a tall order. So tall, it may not seem worth the effort since you will ultimately fail. That is what the devil would have us think.

Satan used to accuse me by saying, “What makes you think God will use you?” The truth is that none of us are perfect – we don’t deserve the blessings of God. But when you put your faith in Jesus, God is pleased with you even though your actions don’t measure up. Your life may be a wreck, but God is still pleased with you. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your abilities or goodness  — He sees Jesus. But that doesn’t mean we just sit on our laurels the rest of our life. We need to mature in the faith.

For example, think about serving God out of love rather than obligation. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has set you free from the impossible task of trying to earn God’s love and connected you to God as a gift.  We can respond to that wonderful gift by freely expressing our love back to God.  We should serve Him. God’s great love for each of us should motivate us to serve Him daily.   

Christians want to work for God, we want to build His kingdom here on earth. But before you concentrate on doing His work, invest your time and energy into your relationship with God. Whenever you have to choose between spending time and energy on developing a closer relationship with God and doing good work to serve Him, choose to invest in your relationship – that is the first and most important step. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you tend to think of God more as a loving parent or a tyrannical rule-giver? Explain. How has your view of God affected your relationship with him?
  2. What’s the difference between having a relationship with God and just having religion?
  3. Pray for the strength and courage to deal with any changes you need to make in your life as a result of this week’s message.