How Do I Know When God Is Pleased with Me?
How Do I Know When God Is Pleased with Me?
Abby McDonald iBelieve Contributor
If you are questioning whether God is pleased with you today, do not allow the enemy to get a foothold. He thrives in our questions and isolation, and uses both as an opportunity to fill us with doubt. Instead, come to God.
The statement still echoed in my head years later.
“You can’t please God,” the pastor had told me. This was during a conversation about the tenants of faith. I was being interviewed to make sure I understood the fundamentals of the church’s doctrine before my baptism the following week. But I was confused. Somehow, the pieces didn’t quite fit together, and although I was sprinkled with water the next Sunday, it was years before God’s character was explained in a way that made me want to stay forever instead of run.
Scripture does say it is impossible to please God without one key element in our life: faith (Hebrews 11:6). So how do we know God is pleased with us? We live by faith. And perhaps more importantly, we exercise that faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter, and it begins with a definition of what exactly faith is.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
Other translations of the word confidence say “substance” or “assurance.” If you continue reading, this chapter is filled with examples of men and women who didn’t simply have a blind trust in something invisible. They acted on their confidence in God’s promises and character. Their belief led to faithfulness, and meant obedience to God in the face of the unknown. Even when these followers didn’t see what was promised, they persevered and stood firm on the Word of God.
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As followers of Jesus, a healthy faith is a forward-moving one. It is not an aspect of our life that stays dormant or a part of us reserved for the pew on Sunday. To experience the fullness of Christ, our faith needs to carry over into every aspect of our lives. Our relationships. Our day-to-day interactions with others. Our work and our families. While we may not become missionaries in a foreign land, our movement with God is a direct reflection of our confidence in him.
Pleased Because of the Perfect Sacrifice
There’s another key element we have to remember about pleasing God. He sent his Son as a sacrifice because he knew we could never live a perfect life. We live in sinful flesh, and are made righteous by Christ’s blood alone. So how do we know God is pleased with us? We accept his Son, Jesus. We acknowledge that he is the only Way, Truth, and Life, and that we can in no way earn our salvation.
When we accept this truth and declare it, God is pleased because he now sees us through the blood of his Son. Christ becomes our atonement for the debt we could never pay on our own. But if we try to live according to our own standard or be good and holy without accepting God’s free gift of grace, we fool ourselves. Scripture tells us it gave God pleasure to have his fullness dwell in Christ, and to provide reconciliation and peace through his shed blood. So, to reject this gift is to reject God himself.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Galatians 1:19-20 NIV)
And what does accepting this gift give us? Contentment, peace, love, and so much more. If we look at some of the early letters to the church, they are filled with thanksgiving and declarations of God’s goodness toward his people. These writers’ joy was evident in their words, and showed the truth of Jesus’ declaration spoken in the Gospel of John: that he came so we could have life to the full (John 10:10).
God wanted to live in relationship with us so much that he would stop at nothing to make it possible. When we live in this truth, we become the truest version of ourselves. We become the person God created us to be, and this gives him pleasure.
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Pleased Because We Abide in Him
Living a life in Christ does not begin and end with salvation. It is a continual, ongoing process. Jesus told his disciples that apart from him, they could do nothing (John 15:5). He said he was the Vine, and we are the branches. When we abide in him, we bear much fruit. When we don’t, the fruit doesn’t come.
When you picture a vine and its branches, you see that all of the branches’ nourishment comes from the vine itself. The vine is feeding into each branch, and if a branch is cut off, it withers and dies. So where does our nourishment come from? It comes from the Holy Spirit, who Jesus sent to be with us after he ascended into heaven. It comes from us seeking his guidance and wisdom, getting into his Word, and acknowledging that we can’t do this life on our own. We admit that we are broken, and we need his help.
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17 ESV)
The more we invite him into our everyday circumstances, the more we learn to recognize his voice. It is not a voice of chaos or intimidation, but a still, small voice that propels us in the right direction. When we make this invitation a daily practice, it pleases God. He is pleased because we recognize our need for him, and our relationship with him thrives.
Pleased Because We Share What We Have
God does not desire for any of us to perish. If he did, he wouldn’t have sent his Son to die for us. But if we look around us, it’s not hard to see that many are still living in darkness. They do not have the hope of Christ, and our testimony may be the only opportunity they have to see a glimpse of his love. They may never step foot in the walls of a church, but they can see his church in action. We are the messengers of the Living Hope he offers. A hope that does not spoil or fade. We are his ambassadors here on earth, and each and every day we live here is an opportunity to share his love with others.
Will there be some who reject the message of the gospel? Absolutely. But we don’t speak to please man, but to please God. We speak because when we do, we have an opportunity to transform a life.
“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV)
When we see a life that has been made new by the hope of Christ, there is nothing like it. It is worth any rejection we might face or raised eyebrows we may encounter. In those moments, we see the power of the Holy Spirit, who still moves, lives and breathes. He works through each one of us, when we are willing.
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Pleased Because We Enjoy Him
God wants us to enjoy our relationship with him. This doesn’t happen when we place it on the back burner or reserve it for worship on Sunday. Like any relationship we have, it grows when we invest time in it. When we do this, God is pleased. He pours out his Spirit and fills us with his love and peace. He also gives us revelation and deeper knowledge of him. Paul knew the fullness we would experience from this type of abiding, and this is why he prayed the church would live this way.
“I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV)
If you are questioning whether God is pleased with you today, do not allow the enemy to get a foothold. He thrives in our questions and isolation, and uses both as an opportunity to fill us with doubt. Instead, come to God. He delights in a humble heart that seeks him. He will use the invitation to trade your questions for confidence in his love. We simply have to take a step toward him.
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Abby McDonald is a writer and speaker whose passion is to help women find the hope of Christ in the middle of life’s messes. She is the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, and her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, For Every Mom, and more. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.
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