What Is Required to Please God?
What does God ask of you? How can you be sure?
MANY people lead what would be called a “good” life. They do not steal, commit immorality, kill or indulge in any other antisocial behavior. They see the need for religion and attend a church of their choice.
It is commonly believed that leading this kind of life is what God asks of humans. Since this opinion is so widespread, it would be pertinent to ask: Is this actually what is required to please God?
You might be quick to answer, Yes. But before doing so, it would be well for you to consider another, more fundamental, question: Do you really know what is required to please God?
You should be careful not to let another do your thinking for you in this matter. It is your responsibility. To let another, even a clergyman, answer this for you is exceedingly dangerous. Why? Because many now recognize that not even the churches are equipping their members to understand God’s purposes and requirements. Said Look magazine of September 24, 1963, of the churches in America: “They too have failed to supply moral leadership, and because their responsibility is the greatest, their failure is the worst. Harvard Divinity School’s Dean Miller says, ‘The church simply does not have a cutting edge. It has taken the culture of our time and absorbed it. It’s ghastly that the church is run not to serve the reality of human beings, but to conserve institutions.’ Yale’s Chaplain Coffin agrees: ‘We churchmen are gifted at changing wine into water—watering down religion.’”
With such admissions, you would do well not to take for granted that you have learned what pleases God just because you have attended a church regularly.
SOURCE OF ANSWERS
How can you determine what God requires of you to please him? Where can you go for your answers? How can you be sure that you are doing what God wants?
God’s own written Word counsels: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) Yes, God wants man to trust him. Since he does, it is only reasonable to conclude that he must have made some provision for man to find out about him and what he requires so that man would not have to grope in darkness. If a child asked his father: ‘Daddy, what must I do to please you?’ would you think it logical if the father brushed the child aside without an answer and told him nothing as to what he required? No, the loving father would be careful to explain to the child what was required of him. If the child ignored this instruction, then he could be punished. If he fulfilled it, then he could be rewarded by a kind word, affectionate embrace, or at times even some material gift.
Would not God, who created man and who gave him his faculty of reason, be even more careful to show man how to please his Maker? Surely the loving Creator would not abandon man after having created him and given him such an inquisitive mind. He would most certainly provide what man would need to guide his steps in a manner that would be pleasing to his heavenly Father.
Has God provided this assistance? Yes. A God-fearing man of ancient times showed us where to go for this guidance, when he said: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” By his spirit God has inspired men to record his purposes and requirements so that all who want to please God can learn of him and know for a certainty what he requires from man.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
What part does God’s Word, the Bible, play in your life? Possessing the Bible is fine, but how you use it is another matter. It is like having a well full of refreshing, life-sustaining water. To benefit from the well you must draw out its contents. It is similar with the Bible. Having one does not mean it will be refreshing and beneficial to you. As with the well, you must go to the Bible and draw from it the refreshing and life-sustaining waters of truth it contains.
It takes effort and regularity to get the truths contained in the Bible. So does getting water from a well. That water will not automatically leap out of the well into your glass. In addition, you need to drink that water regularly, day by day, as one drink would not be sufficient. Likewise, you must put effort into a study of God’s Word and do so with regularity.
Do not be discouraged by the fact that most people today, including churchgoers, do not regularly study the Bible. In order to please God, we must take in these waters of truth. If we turn away from what God has to say, then we will displease him. Proverbs 28:9 states: “He that is turning his ear away from hearing the law—even his prayer is something detestable.” One who turns away from the instructions contained in God’s Word disgusts God even if he prays! It is like a child refusing to listen to his father’s counsel and then continually expecting favors from him.
If you knew where buried treasure was that could be yours for the taking, would you not diligently dig for it? The Bible is a storehouse of spiritual treasure. It will equip its reader to know God. Proverbs 2:1-5 says: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”
Yes, you can determine what course of action pleases God, but you must use his Word to do that. Today, hundreds of thousands of persons throughout the world are systematically studying the Bible with Christian ministers trained to render this assistance. How happy they are to take in this life-giving knowledge!
LIVING UP TO IT
Should we be content to fill our minds with knowledge and let it remain there? No, we need to put into practice the things we learn about God’s will. “The regulations and the judicial decisions and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you should take care to do always.” (2 Ki. 17:37) Not doing this brings God’s displeasure. When ancient Israel was taken captive by the Second World Power, Assyria, the reason God allowed it was this: “They had not listened to the voice of Jehovah their God, but kept overstepping his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Jehovah had commanded. They neither listened nor performed.”—2 Ki. 18:12.
Jesus Christ showed the importance of living up to God’s requirements when he declared: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.” (Matt. 7:21) The Bible writer James verified this principle of doing, as well as hearing, by saying: “Faith without works is dead.”—Jas. 2:26.
God’s will for those who would please him was summed up by Jesus in answer to a question as to which was the greatest commandment in the Law. He stated: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39) Loving God means we will give him first place in our lives, learning of him and willingly obeying all his commands. As we learn of his grand purpose for man, we will not want to be selfish and keep this vital information to ourselves, but we will want to pass it on to our neighbors, our fellowmen on earth. That will be showing the greatest love for our neighbor. In that way he, too, will have the opportunity of knowing and serving God and pleasing him.
This love for God and man means we will cultivate Christian qualities so as to put on a new Christian personality, taking care to associate with those who do the same, for the mutual upbuilding of our faith in God. God will bless this sincere effort and will produce in us the fruitage of his holy spirit. What will result? “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Gal. 5:22, 23.
Shortly God will shower down material blessings on those who please him by granting them everlasting life and perfect health in his restored Paradise. “The fear of Jehovah is a well of life.” “Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, and he will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see it.” What a grand prospect for God pleasers!—Prov. 14:27; Ps. 37:34.
Life in that righteous new order is indeed the only worthwhile goal to work toward. But it will not be attained by the mere doing of good as we see fit, but by building faith in God through a study of his Word and then by doing what God considers good. “Without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb. 11:6) Yes, eternal life will be the happy lot of those who have faith in God and who “are observing his commandments and are doing the things that are pleasing in his eyes.”—1 John 3:22.