I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out God’s will for my life. My most frequent question is, “What do you want me to do?” I’m learning that is not the best question to ask. The Holy Spirit keeps showing me that God is more concerned about who I become than how well I perform. My work for God is a result of my relationship with God. For too many years my priority was “doing” and, as a consequence, “becoming” took a back seat. My life was out of balance and my priorities were the opposite of what God knows is best for me. I was so busy doing the things I thought God wanted me to do that I didn’t have margin for what was important to God – and that was transforming me into the perfect likeness of His Son Jesus.
Now James reminds us that both faith and works are important. Faith without works is dead but works without faith is legalism. Fruitful work comes from knowing, loving, trusting and obeying God; from seed planted in the fertile soil. Our work for God is never meant as a substitute for, or to replace our relationship with God.
As I pondered the question, “What pleases God?”, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the following verses of scripture:
- The prophet Micah said, “He has told you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)
- King Solomon says, at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV) After evaluating all the things this world has to offer, he concludes that nothing else will satisfy except giving God the reverence and obedience He deserves.
I found Paul’s letter to the Colossians particularly helpful. In chapter 1, verses 9-14 (NIV) he lets them know he is praying continually that:
- they live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way
- they are filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all the wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit
- they bear fruit in every good work (thus glorifying God and building the Kingdom)
- they grow in the knowledge of God (drawing ever closer in relationship)
- they are strengthened with His power and might in order to have great patience and endurance (in the face of trials, troubles and tribulation)
- they give joyful thanks to their Father who has qualified them to be His holy people, share in the inheritance of His Kingdom, and live in the Light
- they are grateful for being rescued from the dominion of darkness, brought into the Kingdom of His beloved Son, and redeemed (fully forgiven) from their sins.
I decided to adopt Paul’s prayer for the believers at Colossi as my own prayer to my heavenly Father. I want to please Him by walking worthy of a follower of His Son. I want to please Him by seeking to know and do His will as revealed by His Holy Spirit. I want to please Him by being fertile soil that bears a fruitful harvest. I want to please Him by making our relationship a priority so it grows and flourishes. I want to please Him by depending on His power and might to overcome the trials and troubles I face living in a fallen, dying world. I want to please Him by living a life saturated with joy, peace and gratitude.
I invite you to join me in making Paul’s prayer to the Colossians a blueprint of what we can do to please God.