How Can I Know What Pleases the Lord?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10

In our last two reflections, we have been focusing on Ephesians 5:10, which encourages us to "find out what pleases the Lord." In Monday's reflection, we considered the fact that we are to "use our heads" if we want to please God. Today, I want to reflect a bit more on the process of discovering which actions are pleasing to God (and, therefore, which are not).

Sometimes, of course, this is easy. If my wife asks me to help her carry in the groceries, for example, I don't need an hour to figure out what would please God. Unless I'm involved in some absolutely crucial and time sensitive activity, I should help my wife. That will please God and her as well.

But, many times in life, we're just not sure what might please the Lord. We wrestle with challenging questions like: What career should I choose? Should I marry this person even though we think differently about matters of faith? How many children should we have? Should we join the church with the strong Sunday School program for our children or the one that offers stronger worship and teaching for us? How can I live out my faith in my secular workplace? To what extent should my Christian values be reflected in the business decisions I make at work? Should we move our family to a far away place because of a tempting job offer? Should I retire even though I feel as if I still have so much to offer? What should I do in retirement? And so forth and so on. You can add your own ethical queries to this list.

This line of questions could lead us into a far-reaching discussion about knowing God's will. I don't want to engage that conversation right now. (In fact, I've written quite a bit about this elsewhere.) Rather, I want to stay focused on the passage upon which we have been reflecting. It supplies one trustworthy answer to the question: How can I know what pleases the Lord? The answer: Pay attention to all goodness, righteousness, and truth. As you think about the possibilities before you, ask yourself and the Lord which one has the potential to produce more good, right, and truthful fruit. Take time to seek the Lord's wisdom about this, consulting with wise brothers and sisters in Christ.

But (and this is key) make sure your understanding of goodness, righteousness, and truth is shaped by Scripture. It would be easy to fill in the meaning of these words with your own hunches or with whatever is trendy in the culture. Yet, by doing either of these, you would be likely to miss the mark. If you are going to produce fruit that pleases God, then you need to be sure your life is filled with what he considers to be good, right, and true. Moreover, as God's children, we are to reflect his own character in our lives. Thus, our life choices should be shaped by God's own goodness, righteousness, and truthfulness as revealed in Scripture and made flesh in Jesus Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of an example where the biblical understanding of goodness, righteousness, or truth differs from what seems natural to you? Can you think of an example where there is a difference between biblical values and the culture? Where in your life are you producing a harvest of goodness, righteousness, and/or truth?

PRAYER: Gracious God, I want to live my life so as to please you. Sometimes, though, I'm not quite sure what this means in practice. I face choices that perplex me, choices, not between right and wrong so much as gradations of right. I want to do what's best, but sometimes am not clear what this is. So, help me, Lord, to find out what pleases you. Guide me to see how my life can produce the abundant fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Lead me through your Word. Counsel me through your people. Help me to be more like Christ each day. Amen.

Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype

When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this week's series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.

Featured image above by Jhong Dizon. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.