A Life Pleasing to God

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

Three things the Father said of Jesus: You’re my Son.  I love you.  I am pleased with you.

By grace in faith, I am an adopted son.  God loves me.  I can not earn His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His mercy or His salvation. (I say “His salvation” rather than ‘my’ because “salvation belongs to our God.”)  I have earned His judgment, His justice, and His wrath.

But is it wrong to live as though I can–through, by and with Him–earn His pleasure, by which I mean work towards His pleasure?  I know it is pleasing to Him for me to trust, hope, believe, submit, rely, etc.–all the generally passive stuff, though more active than we think.  We are so scared of “works righteousness,” though, that maybe we think (or maybe just I think) that exerting effort to “please” God implies we think we can earn righteousness through righteous behavior.

Now, pleasing God isn’t going to happen with just external behavior.  External behavior no matter how outwardly good can be displeasing to God if done out of selfish ambition, greed or pride.  It might be pleasing to God to the extent that it genuinely helps another or accomplishes good in the world, but it will never be well pleasing by itself.  And internal change, though pleasing to God, will remain shallow and incomplete if faith does not act in love and gratitude and therefore not well pleasing to God by itself.

That said, I want to live my life in such a way that God can say: “You are my adopted son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”