1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 10

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

While teaching a youth discipleship class, I asked the youngsters to set a goal for themselves for the next 12 months. One young man said that he wanted to read through the whole Bible within a year. Another said he would attend church on Sunday regularly. A third resolved to share the gospel with one person every week.

″To live in order to please God″ gives us an ethical guideline that is practical for everyday living.

While all these goals were good and noble, in today's passage, Paul urges believers to focus on just one goal: ″to live in order to please God″ (1 Thessalonians 4:1).

Christianity is a love relationship. The main point and characteristic of such a relationship is to please the one we love. To please God, therefore, lies at the root of our discipleship, and is the guiding principle and goal for every follower of Christ.

″To live in order to please God″ gives us an ethical guideline that is practical for everyday living. It rescues us from the legalism and rigidity of a Pharisee-like approach that tries to entrench our Christian life in a set of rules, in a list of dos and don'ts. Instead, we need only to ask ourselves: ″Will God be pleased with me if I do this?″

In 1 Thessalonians 2:4, Paul had established this principle by saying, ″We are not trying to please people but God.″ How do we please God in all that we do? By imitating the Lord Jesus, who had the same goal: ″I seek not to please myself but him who sent me . . . I always do what pleases him″ (John 5:30; 8:29). To please God is to live like Christ, for what Christ did always pleased the Father.

There are three things to remember about pleasing God.

First, the desire to please God is not something we have by our own will and strength. As Paul notes in Romans 8:8, ″those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.″ Instead, ″God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him″ (Philippians 2:13, NLT). We must therefore pray that God our great Shepherd will ″equip [us] with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him″ (Hebrews 13:21).

Second, pleasing God is much more than just obeying Him. The story of the prophet Jonah shows us that it is possible to obey the Lord without pleasing Him (see Jonah 3:3; 4:1-4). It is loving obedience that will please the Father. Like Jesus, let us declare: ″I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me″ (John 14:31).

Third, pleasing God is not a one-time effort, nor can it be confined to one specific aspect of life. Rather, this endeavour permeates our whole being. One ought to love Him ″with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind″ (Matthew 22:37). In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul goes even further: ″Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.″

This, then, is the nature of a mature Christian-to be willing to surrender more and more of his life, until all of his being pleases God.

Think through:

How would asking, ″Will God be pleased with me if I do this?″ affect your decision-making and your actions each day?

What personal goal can you set that would please the Lord? What are some things you have done or are doing that might be displeasing to Him? Why would He be displeased by these things?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

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Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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