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Pleasing Christ – An Underemphasized Doctrine


So we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

The greatest joy of a Christian is giving joy to Christ. So says Charles Spurgeon.

Have you thought of the Christian life this way? Are you modeling this to your children?

Living to please the Lord is an underemphasized doctrine in the evangelical world. And I think it is vital for passing on a non-moralistic view of the gospel to our children.

Here is what I have written in a forthcoming book:

Pleasing God

This discussion of pleasing the Spirit, leads us to a surprising doctrine related to fighting sin. We evangelicals love to emphasize the doctrine of justification by faith. It is a glorious truth. When we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus Christ, the Father imputes our sin to Christ and his righteousness to us. Without any merit on our own, the judge’s gavel comes down on Jesus and we, the guilty, walk away righteous. Truly, it is amazing grace, astounding favor, that I the guilty one may go free!

However, in that proclamation, I am afraid that our young people can hear something we do not mean. Christianity becomes a status attained, like a membership in a sports club. Jesus has paid the dues for me to join the club. I accepted his payment. But, whether I actually choose to exercise in this new club, is a whole different matter.  Our children (and we) can have a detached, passive view of their walk with God.

But Scripture also declares that I am adopted as a child of God. As his child, my actions can please him or grieve him. Paul said he was seeking to please God the Father not men (Galatians 1:10). And Paul made it his aim to please the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:9). In other places, Scripture commands us to find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10) and do this more and more (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

Wired to Please

Why is this motivation to please so important? We are wired to seek approval. Our young children (and older children) want their parent’s encouragement and blessing. Jesus heard his Father’s blessing at the beginning and in the middle of his ministry (Matthew 3:17, 17:5). Our children too will seek approval as they grow older. But God desires that they should seek to live to please him.

This is a radical but empowering thought for our children. Our understanding of God is deficient if we think of him as an immovable judge, satisfied but unfeeling. Instead, our lives can bring pleasure to our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and His Spirit. Charles Spurgeon explored this years ago when he stated, “The greatest joy of a Christian is to give joy to Christ.” This is a worldview-shaking thought – I, personally can bring joy or grief to Christ. In fact, pleasing the Lord is a motivation for our children obeying us. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).

When they are young children, we are training them to obey and please us. But as they grow older, we want to handoff our guidance to the Spirit’s guidance. We move from our approval to the Spirit’s approval.

As a parent, I want to bring this facet of pleasing God into my shepherding of my children. I want them to sense that active affirmation in their heart as they seek to please him. This moves Christianity from a list of do’s and don’ts to a personal walk with their Savior.

This Desiring God article makes this same emphasis when the writer differentiates between our union with Christ and our communion with Christ. See the Pleasure of Pleasing God here.

This is absolutely vital to understand for a flourishing walk with Christ!

P.S. I am looking for help launching my book. Email me if you are interested!


Additional articles that might interest you.

When A Friend Loses a Child – Powerful and good instruction.

Kevin DeYoung on The Tolerance Jesus will not Tolerate – Good antidote to the spirit of the age.

Michael Kruger and the Earliest List of the NT Canon. Surprisingly it is earlier than you think.