29. How can I figure out what pleases the Lord?
Ephesians 5:10. “Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” (NLT)
“…try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (ESV)
“…test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord” (CEB)
When I read this passage this morning, my primary question was “How can I ‘carefully determine what pleases the Lord’ today?” Would He be pleased as He watches me doing my chores, going to work, interacting with people, checking off each item on my to-do list? The conclusion I came to was – yes and no. I think that my Father would be pleased that I was serving and loving other people. But I think He would also be sad that I let myself get stressed by having to rush to work; that I didn’t ask for His help when I had that problem at work that I could not solve; that I filled all my “alone” commuting time entertaining myself rather than spending any of that time listening to Him. These responses would not be terrible, but they would demonstrate that I was living unintentionally. Although I periodically examine my life to see that I am heading toward goals I think God has planned for me, I too often drift through my days without specific thought about what would please God that day.
I recognize that in this passage Paul is instructing the readers to be careful to determine what pleases God in the context of the darkness surrounding them, with immoral sexual practices and temptations present. Those are not my primary temptations, but rather the comfortable pattern of being busy doing tasks without a deliberate purpose in view. There are days when checking off items on my to-do list is my highest priority. The things I am doing are good and many are necessary, but I want to live a higher goal than that.
The verses surrounding verse 10 expand on this topic. In verse 11 the “deeds of evil and darkness” are characterized as “worthless” or “unfruitful” (ESV). They are the opposite of deeds that are purposeful and valuable. Verses 15 through 17 encourage me to “be careful how [I] live,” “make the most of every opportunity,” and act thoughtfully. There is no room here for drifting through life. I want to live purposefully, intentionally doing what I know is pleasing to God.
For me, that starts with actively exercising faith by trusting God in each situation, each day. What does that look like?
- Meeting with God during my morning quiet time, not just reading a passage in order to complete that task, but taking time to listen to what the Holy Spirit may be saying to me through the Bible and prayer.
- Making time for undistracted prayer before I leave for work, not just counting on praying while I drive to work.
- Asking God for help with each challenge, big or small, that arises during the day.
- (And giving myself grace when I forget each of the above. My goal is to increase in these areas. I know it will be a gradual process.)
Father, please help me to be intentional in how I follow You. Remind me during this day to be purposeful in my thoughts and actions. Show me how my experiences throughout the day fit together to help me grow and to bring glory and pleasure to You. Amen
From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart. You are invited to contact Peggy through ChurchHealthMinistries.com.