For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (verses 8-10)
Back in 2 Corinthians 5:9 the Apostle said, “We make it our goal to please him.”
Here he urges us to join in that same pursuit. “Find out what pleases the Lord.”
The delight of a parent with a child is so multifaceted. I remember the joy that filled my heart at the birth of each of our kids – holding them for the first time was sheer delight. They hadn’t done anything yet at all. I loved them so profoundly, even though we’d only just met!
The ongoing joy of their presence persisted through childhood. It continues still. I am pleased by their presence, by their company, by their relationship. It doesn’t take much.
When I think about pleasing the Lord, I remember this principle of simple delight. He’s pleased with me because he loves me. My presence with him, drawing near, delights his heart.
As our kids grew, they would make intentional choices to draw a smile to my face, causing me, spontaneously, to throw my arms around them. They’d draw me a picture (often having to explain exactly what it was before I could recognize the scribbled lines at all!) – I’d receive it with joy. Later, there were gifts, carefully planned, pleasing me no end, because they expressed love and thoughtfulness.
Our Father receives gifts and sacrifices and acts of service gladly from our hands, even when they’re not perfectly crafted, even when they’re faltering and deficient. He delights in us.
And when my kids made hard choices, putting aside their own desires (or timetable) to help me with a task simply because I asked, doing it without grumbling, it warmed my heart. Oh, there were those times, too, when I felt the need to “lower the boom,” requiring compliance – I must say, those moments weren’t nearly so pleasing. Willing obedience, even when it wasn’t their first choice, was much more pleasant.
Once we were darkness. Now we are light, in the Lord. When we choose to walk in the ways of light, putting aside the default-settings that still well-up within us, it pleases his heart.
The problem with seeking to please another human being, parents included, is that it can become so complicated. Perhaps they don’t appreciate the effort. Perhaps they’re manipulative, seeking to control through the giving or withholding of approval. Perhaps what “pleases” is harmful or unhealthy. Perhaps the one “seeking to please” is acting out of insecurity. So many complications.
In the Lord, we have the perfect Father. All-wise and all-loving, he makes plans for our good (Jeremiah 29:11), choosing to bless us (Ephesians 1:3). And when we ourselves interact with him out of fear or insecurity, he seeks to draw us to greater knowledge of his unending love (Ephesians 3:16-19), helping us find security in our identity in him.
So, find out what pleases the Lord. Enter, more deeply, the Father’s embrace. Step into the fullness of his joy.
Father, thank you for love and grace. You have rescued me out of darkness. You call me to live in the light. Teach me, more and more, what pleases you. I want to walk in your light, to enter your delight.
Reflect: As you go through this day, watch for opportunities (always present) to delight the Lord. Find out what pleases him. Keep track of the moments.