What Pleases God?
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
Is Christianity a life long endeavor of striving to please God by our works for Him? Some people would say that in order to have a relationship with God, we must work our way to him. Is this what Paul is saying when he tells us to “work out your own salvation?”
The correct answer is clearly found in the verses surrounding verse 12. In verse 3, we are told to “let nothing be done in strife or vainglory,” and “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Work that we do only produces pride and self-glorification. In verse 5, “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are told to have the same mind or attitude Christ had when He was here on earth. Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus, the Son of God, “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” The key to understanding what pleases God is found in the gospel. It is only in Jesus that God is pleased.
Without Jesus, we can never please God. Two truths are found in verse 13. God gives the Christian the desire to obey, and God also gives the power to please Him. Obedience to God comes from God. The ability to please God also comes from God.
Obedience does not produce love. Love produces obedience. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” And in verse 21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” Love is the first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. The love that produces obedience does not come from within. That kind of love comes only from God.
This week, let us focus on God and our relationship with Him rather than on our efforts to try and please Him. If you don’t have a relationship with Christ, turn to him so that you too may do the good works of God.