"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)
Can man please God? And if so, how can we know we please God? It is hard for me to imagine doing anything to please God but He says I can. If you asked me personally what I thought was pleasing to God I might say serving others, not being selfish, going to church, tithing, Bible study, praying, ministry, all religious activity. Seriously, don’t you think one or all these things would please God?
I do believe God is pleased when we do these things. But surprisingly the writer of Hebrews takes pleasing God a little deeper by saying, “unless we have faith, it’s impossible to please Him.” Notice the word “have” (emphasis mine) instead of the word “do.” Oh, how we love to “do” for God. And God loves for us to serve Him but it is not our service that is the key to pleasing Him. As a matter of fact, if we don’t have faith it’s impossible. Impossible is a strong word!
What is it we must have to please God? The key to pleasing God is “faith.” It is true -- faith is the key to pleasing God. I find the thought of pleasing a holy God nothing short of a miracle. If you have ever tried to please someone you know how impossible it can be. Even God doesn’t please everyone, so what makes us think we can? Yet, God can be pleased. And it is faith that pleases God.
I cannot think of faith without my mind going to Abraham. He has been called the “father of faith” and he stands above all the other amazing men in the Bible as having enormous faith. God told him to first leave his father’s home and then He would tell him where to go. So, Abram left! Seriously, God said go and Abram went! When Abram started packing and had to tell his wife Sara they were leaving, he wasn’t sure where they were going and they needed to leave right then, can you imagine what she thought?
I didn’t understand for a long time why God did not tell Abram exactly where he was going. But if God had given Abram an itinerary he may have put his faith in the itinerary more than God. If Abram had been able to print out a map and a plan, his focus would be on the map and not on God. Abram and Sara had to have faith in God’s ability to direct them.
It is easy for me to say, God I’m willing to go but first tell me where you want me to go. But God told Abram to leave and he left. Now, that’s an example of faith! Scripture describes faith as the things hoped for and the conviction of what is not seen. If we could see and know in detail what God was doing in our lives, we would not need the faith to trust Him. Faith believes in a God Who is faithful. Abram trusted God enough to take the first step and God led him each step of the way. God asks us to trust (faith) Him when we cannot see what He is doing.
Oh, how we love a plan and planning can be great. But our plans are not necessarily God’s plans. And God’s plan always trumps ours. If Abram had not obeyed God, he would have missed out on all the blessings God had prepared for him. Abram pleased God by trusting Him. We please God when we put our faith in Him (trust Him) even when we don’t understand or know the plan. We get so caught up in what we should and shouldn’t do that we miss the whole point.
The Christian life starts with faith and we are to “live” by faith. When we trust God more than anything else, we please Him. I’m so thankful I do not have to try and please man because I find that nearly impossible. I can please God by putting my faith in the God Who loves me, died for me, and called me. When I say “yes” to God by faith, He is pleased because faith pleases God!