February 1982

God Pleasers

Dan S. Shipley

If one statement could come close to summing up what the life of the Christian is all about, it would be something like the one Paul expresses when he writes, "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God..." (2 Tim. 2:15). All of God's workmen need reminding of this admonition. It tells us to keep in view the object of our allegiance. Remember at all times and in all things, it is God we seek to please; not loved ones, not brethren, not the elders, and above all, not self.

Nothing says more about us than whose approval we seek — and nothing more influences our conduct. Nowhere is this more obvious than in youth. There, we call it "peer-pressure." At times it has proven more powerful and more persuasive than a lifetime of moral and spiritual training. For this reason we cannot begin too early or emphasize too much the great need for our children's seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33) — and avoiding evil companionships (1 Cor. 15:33). And, most of all, they need to see in their parents a demonstration of what they recommend. After all, youth are not the only ones susceptible to the pressures of peer pleasing.

Accordingly, we find Jesus denouncing those who seek to justify themselves in the sight of men (Lk. 16:15). Some even engaged in acts of worship and benevolence that they might have the glory of men (Matt. 6:1-16). The reward they sought is all they got. As Jesus says, "They have received their reward." Not only are such rewards trivial, they are sought at the expense of God's approval and reward. Any expression of "religion" that is aimed at pleasing men is rendered worthless in its motive — as Ananias and Sapphira learned the hard way (Acts 5). Our giving will be no more acceptable than theirs when its aim is to impress or appease men. The same is true with our singing. As in giving, we must do our best and for the right reason. However, when our concern is more for harmony, pitch, pleasant sound and pleasing the visitors than singing with the spirit and understanding, we do not please God. Likewise, teaching efforts (whether oral or written) made with a view toward impressing more than helping are vanity. Remember then, the smallest or the greatest act of righteousness can be invalidated with a wrong motive. In all, it is God we must seek to honor, glorify and please.

However, if it is wrong to do right to please men, it is equally wrong not to do right in order to please them This is the temptation of Christians who court the favor of the world. It may be the husband or wife seeking to appease their non-Christian mate. As mentioned earlier, it may be the boy or girl seeking acceptance and popularity among peers. Or, it may be any Christian who covets social acceptance by worldly acquaintances. If we are not careful we will find our conduct and conversation being altered when associating with the ungodly. We may wish them to think us one thing and God to think us another. God knows the heart (Lk. 16:15) and its aim must ever be to please Him in all things (2 Cor. 5:9).

Is it yours?