“Find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10, NIV)
This verse seems a daunting challenge. For “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34) But this is no guessing game, created on a whim by some distant god who wants to play havoc with our lives. We don’t need to know the entire infinite, omniscience of God. Paul is telling us in the Ephesians verse to find out, because it is an achievable goal. He follows that verse up in Ephesians 5:17 with “do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In His Word, God tells us what pleases him and what His will is. Psalm 119, the longest of the psalms, is all about the Word of God and how wonderful it is. The psalmist says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (v. 18) “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (v. 24) The Old Testament is full of God’s statutes and laws: there are over 600 of them. Jesus simplified it for us: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
In addition to Scripture, we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us discern God’s will. And also, the counsel of godly mentors. For myself, scripture tends to be the most reliable revelation of what pleases God. Sometimes it is difficult to hear the Holy Spirit, and godly mentors are not always immediately accessible. But, from a young age, I was encouraged to memorize scripture. How many times the counsel of God comes to me from verses I have memorized many, many years ago! I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11) God’s Word is always with me.
In addition to God’s statutes and commandments that teach us how to please Him, the Word is full of examples of people pleasing the Lord (e.g., Genesis 22:1-18; 1 Kings 3:10). It also teaches us through the accounts of people who displeased the Lord (e.g., 2 Samuel 11:27 and following; Acts 5:1-11). How the Bible reveals exactly what pleases the Lord!
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us Your Word and showing us how to please You. Help us to avidly read and hide Your Word in our hearts, so we might not sin against You.