Living ‘Well Pleased’
Last week I challenged us to live 2019 under our Father’s pronouncement that we are His beloved child, and in us He is ‘well pleased.’ I posited that this is a healthier spiritual pursuit than seeking to earn God’s accolade of ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’ What I want to propose this week is that our faithfulness to the former will inevitably lead to the realization of the latter.
So what does it look like to live ‘well pleased’? Let me propose three ways this works in our lives – as examination, freedom and commissioning.
As we experience the full weight of the words ‘well pleased’ coming from the lips of our Heavenly Father, we must not confuse His pleasure in us with His displeasure of our sin and everything that separates us from Him. In fact, when we place ourselves in God’s presence and hear – really hear Him speak these words to us, our sin will immediately become intolerable. How can we harbor the sin that God hates while experiencing the overwhelming joy of His good pleasure? We can’t.
Living ‘well pleased’ is a call to a life of self-examination. Not self-fixation, but the kind of honesty that reveals sin that can now be rooted out. God’s pleasure shines a white-hot light on the dark recesses of our soul. It exposes all that is not God-pleasing and it gives us the courage and power to overcome it. We cannot watch pornography and live ‘well pleased’. Likewise we cannot harbor resentment, withhold forgiveness, hate our enemies, practice prejudice or relish our self-righteous anger. It all gets exposed and excised from our lives. It is a healthy, difficult yet gracious and healing process.
Will you let God’s pronouncement of His good pleasure in you do this work in 2019?
The second aspect of living ‘well pleased’ is a profound new sense of freedom. God’s delight is nothing we earn. It is granted, bestowed out of God’s eternal love for us and His coming to us in Jesus Christ. This is where the order of our thinking is of utmost importance. Think of it as ‘because, therefore’ and not a ‘so that’. Let me explain.
God’s grace that lavished on us through the pronouncement of God’s good pleasure in us is always the starting point. It is the catalyst, the motivator and the source of all our ways and works. We can say, “Because God take such good pleasure in me, therefore, I will live and work fully for Him and His glory.” That’s the order, because…therefore. In this way, what we do flows from who we are. The former is wholly dependent upon the latter, and must never be separated from it. If we hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant’, it will be because all of our good works were the outflowing of a heart overwhelmed by the grace of the God who takes delight in us. It is the father running down the road to embrace the prodigal son who, having done everything to earn his father’s wrath, receives only love, grace and forgiveness. That’s the life of ‘well pleased.’
This is the antithesis of the anxious pursuit of doing enough to earn God’s favor. When we switch the order from ‘because…therefore’ to ‘so that’, we are thrown back upon ourselves as the controlling agent in the process. We end up working hard for Jesus ‘so that’ we may know His favor. We push ourselves to succeed ‘so that’ we might please God. We try to root out sin in our lives ‘so that’ we are more acceptable to a holy God.
Test yourself and name the ‘so that’s’ that drive you. Living under the pronouncement of a beloved child in whom God already takes delight sets us free from every form of self-justification and works-based righteousness. This freedom comes in the form of a peaceful heart, a patient spirit, a trusting attitude and joyful life. That is a goal worth pursuing in 2019.
Finally, this pronouncement on us is our commissioning to live for the Great Commission and live out the Great Commandment. The fruit of the ‘well pleased’ life is obedience, courage and passion. If God loves us this much, if He takes such pleasure in us, how else would we respond but in gladly doing whatever He asks? If the Almighty God of the universe takes delight in us, what could possibly cause us to fear or shrink back from taking on any challenge to which He may call us? And if we are the beloved child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, how else could we live but with a passion to tell the world about Him?
God’s love for us is also the foundation for our love for ourselves and love for our neighbor. Remember, if we believe we need to earn God’s favor, then we will demand that others earn ours as well. It is only under the freedom of this gracious pronouncement on us that we will be compelled to love, serve and be gracious toward others in return. This pronouncement commissions us for both sets of work; courageous witness and selfless service.
These are just three aspects of how I would articulate the life of one who truly believes that God is well pleased in them; examination and victory over sin, freedom to live as an outflowing of grace, and commissioning to a life of selfless surrender marked by obedience, courage and passion.
If that sounds like a pretty great way to live, then welcome to the journey. May 2019 be for all of us a year marked by freedom and joy as we follow the one who said, “I came that you may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)