What is a life pleasing to God? As followers of Christ for? We desire to please God, but what is it that pleases Him? Today’s devotional answers that question. I’ve got good news, it is not a difficult thing to please God, who loves you so much. And wat God wants is not a secret. Verses 1-2 read,
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
What is it that God wants? He wants us to walk in His commandments. Leviticus 26:3-4 reads,
If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
This passage goes on to talk about all the great things God will do for us if we would only walk in His commandments. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He left the apostles and disciples instructions for what He wanted from them and from us, He gave us what we call the Great Commission. A commission is an assignment, an official job or directive to be carried out. Our commission is recorded in Matthew 28:18-20.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the job we have been given. Some of us do this, some of us don’t. Most of us leave this job to a few of us. Maybe we don’t feel qualified to go make disciples, maybe we don’t know what or how to teach them because we don’t know what Jesus commanded us to do. So let’s look at some of what Jesus commanded and taught us. Clearly we can’t cover everything in a morning devotional. But I trust you read your Bible every day and you will continue to read Jesus instructions for your life. The gospel of John is a great place to begin and Matthew chapters 5-7 are a great place to study. This is what we call the Sermon on the Mount and it can teach you things that will knock your world upside down. So this morning I will look at just a few of Jesus’ commandments for us. First we will read what Jesus said was the greatest commandment. He said there were actually two commandments to be obeyed because they are like one another, meaning that obeying one means we need to obey both. Matthew 22:37-40
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
He said that all the law and prophets, the entirety of Scripture was dependent on these two commandments. If we keep these two commandments we are pleasing God and we are walking in God’s commandments. I know though there are people who can get hung up on loving your neighbor. Who is your neighbor? (He answered this question in the parable of the Good Samaritan) They get caught up on the loving yourself part and elevate that above everything else the commandment says. Jesus know people would do that too. So He simplified the command for us. He took out he question of who our neighbor is, He took out the question of what it means to love. In John 15:12-17 Jesus said,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Some of the other commandments Jesus gave us that help us to be disciples and teach others to be disciples are to take the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:18-20). Pray (Matthew 21:13). Wait for His return (Matthew 24:42-44). And take care of the church, and the poor and those in need (John 21:15-16, Matthew 21:31-40). But above all of these commandments we are commanded to love as Jesus loves.
Following these commandments does more than we can imagine. They are key to making disciples of others but they also further our walk with God and please Him in a way that goes beyond our obedience. Verses 3-8 read,
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
It is God’s will for us to be sanctified. That means we become more and more righteous like Jesus, holy and noticeably different from the world. To not become more like Jesus, to stay where we are is to transgress, that is do wrong against our brothers and sisters. And who in the world will care to be like someone who is no different than they are?
How are we sanctified? How do we know if we are progressing forward in our walk with Jesus? How is your self-control? Is it better than it was yesterday? Can you leave that chocolate, cigarette, sex, or whatever your vice is, alone? Can you say no to it and mean it? Your self-control and ability not to give in to your passions and stomach are a thermometer of your maturity (sanctification) in Christ. We should always be moving forward. Verse one said we ought to be doing so more and more. Another thermometer of our sanctification is how we are keeping Jesus commandment to love one another. Verses 9-10 read,
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
Paul urges us to love one another more and more. Remember love is not just a mushy gushy feeling. You can tell me you love me all you want but unless there is some tangible evidence, unless there is some action on your part, your “love” means nothing to me. So are we loving more and more? Are we laying down our lives more and more? Are we giving, providing, bearing one another’s burdens, and supporting one another more and more? James 2:14-17 describes it this way,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Our tangible love, our ever-increasing sanctification, our faith is exhibited in the lives we lead. People shouldn’t look at our lives and think we are the same as they are Partying in the world or that we concerned with filling or lusts, desperate to fill our stomachs, or worried about anything. They should look at us and see quiet goodness, people who love another so that we have no unmet needs, people who are rejoicing in the Lord. Verses 11-12 read,
and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
This is what pleases God. Are we becoming more and more like Jesus every day? Are we loving one another more and more every day? Are we living quiet respectful lives which give people in the world nothing to accuse us of? If not, then right now, right here is the perfect time and place to start becoming more and more.