Is It Possible To Displease a Loving God?
Updated: Jan 4, 2020
“...and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10)
I remember several years back hearing that the gospel teaches that as children of God, we cannot please God because He is already pleased with those who are in Jesus Christ. It was said that He is our Father and He is always pleased with us as His children. This unfortunate, albeit well-intended, teaching has been a detriment to the church. It errs in that it fails to make a distinction between our positional and relational standing with God.
The best way to describe this standing may be in relating it to a human relationship. A good human father loves his children and would never disown them. That child may rebel and run amuck, but he/she is still a child who is loved by that good parent. This is the positional standing of the child with the parent. Nothing can change that as far as the parent is concerned.
However, a good parent is also displeased with a child who is disobedient. This has no bearing on love. It shouldn’t anyway when we are functioning the way the parent was designed to. This allows us to train and discipline our children to become healthy, well-rounded men and women in society.
The same holds true with our Heavenly Father. The mistakes you have made do not change your standing with God. His love for you never changes. However, we can indeed please God. In fact, we are told to make that our aim in life. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.“
God says to learn His ways and submit yourself to them so that you will know His will. It's not because God just wants to Lord a bunch of rules over your head. That shouldn’t be the reasoning with human parents either. Rather God says to obey His commandments because His ways are good and perfect. They lead to wisdom, perfect love and wholeness. In Ephesians 5:15-17 the Apostle Paul says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
In conclusion, understand this, as a child of God you are always fully and completely loved by your Father in heaven. With that said, we make it our aim to please Him. He is training us and shaping us to be whole and complete. Let’s not coast through this life in spiritual apathy without using our God-given discernment. As beloved children of the most High God, let’s “be renewed in the spirit of our minds” and strive to “understand what the will of the Lord is.”
How do we do this one might ask? In the context of the above passage, a good place to start would be by regularly gathering with like-minded believers to be built up in love through the truth of God’s Word. (See Ephesians 4:11-21)