“and find out what pleases the Lord.” -Ephesians 5:10
I really like the simplicity of verses like this one. You don’t need a seminary education to understand what it says. It’s pretty simple, find out what makes Jesus happy and do it. For me the real challenge of this verse is not in the understanding but in the doing.
When “I” try to live this verse out it usually looks like this:
- Get up in the morning and think to myself, hmmm…. a new day and a new opportunity to please Jesus!
- Get ready for the day. Hmmm…. What do I want for breakfast?
- Look at my to do list for the day. Hmmm…. What do I want to get done today?
- Make plan for the day. Hmmm…. How do I want to tackle these to dos?
- Go about my day doing stuff. Hmmm…. How should I interact with these people, how should I handle this situation, what should I have for lunch, what should I, I, I….
- Get home. Hmmm…. How should I unwind from my busy day? What can I do to make me happy this evening?
- Go to bed. Hmmm…. I’m tired, must have been a productive day! Oh ya! Jesus, I pray that you would bless all the stuff I did today. Amen.
- Sleep. Hmmm…. (insert snoring sound)….
The day starts out with the desire to please Jesus. I want to talk with Him and listen to what He wants for my day but often times “I” get in the way. It seems that there is something deep inside of me that wants what He wants and at the same time wants what I want. (that’s a lot of wants)
In the book of Romans Paul puts it this way-
“I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?”
I laugh at myself when I read these verses because in trying to deal with the “I want to do good but can’t” issue “I” try all kinds of stuff but nothing helps because it’s “I” who is doing the trying… which is the problem in the first place. And this is not even mentioning our messed up motives for pleasing Him, like doing stuff for Jesus to earn His love or trying to make up for the bad stuff we’ve done. It’s enough to make a guy want to punch himself in the face.
So, how is a person suppose to “find out what pleased the Lord”, what He wants and do it?
Let’s go back to Romans-
“The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
The answer, Paul says, is Jesus. Only by dumping the “I” and asking Jesus to help us can we get off the treadmill of our own effort that is heading nowhere and walk on the path that leads us closer to Him. As we get closer to Him, we begin to know Him more and the more we know Him the more we understand what pleases Him. This leads us to a place where our lives become more about Him then the “I” that is fighting to stay on top.
As an added benefit we end up punching ourselves in the face much less often.