There is a difference between appeasing God and pleasing Him. He desires our obedience because we love Him, not to get something from Him or avoid discipline. Our actions are to be done with an open and willing heart. Going through the motions is not going to cut it.
I recently learned this lesson first hand. The Lord had asked me to take a friend of mine to lunch the following day. Normally this would be no big deal; however, this friendship was a little different. Due to some things that have been going on in his life for the last few years, we haven’t talked much nor did I feel he the same person I once knew.
I really didn’t want to go to lunch with him. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to talk about. Worried of how he might react if I said something the wrong way, or worse that I wouldn’t say what the Lord wished me to. I basically didn’t want to do it. I knew, however, that it was what the Lord wanted me to do. Thus, I texted my friend asking if he wanted to do lunch the following day. Five minutes went by with no response. An hour. Then three hours. I started getting hopeful that the lunch would not occur; that I wouldn’t have to confront my fears.
The Lord then turned the situation into a learning lesson: He wants our obedience because we love Him. Plain and simple. It is not to avoid discipline or to show off how holy we are. Rather it is our sacrifice to Him. The night of Jesus’ arrest while in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed, “take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’”. (Mark 14:36, NIV) He didn’t want to be separated from His Father (what occurred when all sin was laid on Him at His death), yet He was willing to do so because He loved the Father and wished to please Him. 1 John 5:3 states, “this is love for God: to obey His commands.” (NIV) The amazing part is what the next part of the verse says, “and his commands are not burdensome….” God will not ask you to do something that He has not equipped you to do nor will He leave you to do it on your own.
So, there I was sitting on the sofa hoping my friend wouldn’t respond, when the Lord showed me my heart. I was saying I was willing to do what He asked; I had even made the first step of inviting my friend. Yet, my heart was not in it. I was more afraid of what might happen than trusting the Lord.
God is not going to ask you to do something then leave you. The Lord demonstrates this in Joshua when He appoints Joshua over Israel after the death of Moses. Three times the Lord encourages Joshua to be “strong and courageous” including in verse 9 of the first chapter where the Lord concludes His pep talk with, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV).
What are you going to do the next time the Lord lays something on your heart? Are you going to pursue it boldly with Him? Or half heartedly by yourself in hopes that your actions appease Him?
I chose to please the Lord. I stopped hoping that my friend would not contact me, and started talking to the Lord about my fears of how the time would look. His peace came on me, and I knew that the lunch would be a great one with the Lord- no matter what happened in the physical sense. Moments later my friend responded that getting together sounded good to him.
We all have a decision to make: please God or appease Him. I encourage you to trust that He is Who He says He is and believe that He will never leave nor forsake you.
“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:36 (NIV)
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:3-5
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