“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a
Paul writes to the Thessalonians to abound, to continue to grow in the Lord. He knows that they are walking with Jesus, and encourages them to keep on walking, to keep on growing. I think it is important for us to realize that we never stop growing as Christians. As long as we are in this body, upon this earth, there will always be room for growth in our spiritual walks. Paul tells us in Philippians 3:14 that he presses “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He keeps pressing towards God; he keeps his eye on the prize, and does not stop aiming towards it.
We too, as children of God, as those who seek to please God must realize that we will never be perfected on this earth. But, we have a goal before us, a prize to attain, and we can attain it through the constant desire to please God. God wants us to strive for this because He knows that it is through your desire to conform to His desires that He will be able to work in you and through you to bring you to the place He has prepared for you. Philippians 1:6 affirms this because it tells us that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it, if we keep pressing and striving to please God in all that we do and say.
But what does it mean to please God? To please means to strive to please; to accommodate one’s self to the opinions, desires and interests of someone. (Vines Expository Dictionary) To please God means that we strive to accommodate our own self to the opinions, desires and interests of God alone. In simpler terms, we live the Bible, instead of just reading it. What pleases God? Hebrews 11:6 tells us that faith pleases God. If we believe in God, if we seek to please God than our walks will reflect Him and His desires, our walks will be an open Bible for anyone and everyone to read.
David Guziak writes, “The purpose of our walk, the reason for living is to please God, not ourselves.” We are Christians not for our own purposes, not for our own desires, but we have been chosen by God, we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20) to walk before the Lord and to strive to please Him. Paul writes in 1 Thess. 4:3 that this is the will of God, our sanctification. If we are walking to please God then something is happening on the inside of us, we are being sanctified, we are being set apart for God, for His purposes and His desires. We will see the growth, others will see the growth. Those things that once burdened you will burden you no more. Those chains that bound you will bind you no more. You will become free and find that you are still a sinner, but you sin less.
Pleasing the Lord means that we strive to do all that He desires and commands us to do. The word that Paul uses for commandment in verse 2 of 1 Thessalonians 4 is a military term. It is a commandment given to the officer by his commanding officer. It is not to be met with resistance, but to be obeyed without question. There is a note of authority and that authority is to be obeyed at all costs. Therefore, when Paul says we know what commandments were given to us through the Lord Jesus, what he is telling us is that the Captain of our souls is commanding us to live a life that pleases God. We know the commandments of our Lord Jesus. We know what He tells us to do and not to do. The Bible is the instruction manual on how to live this Christian life for God. We must live the Bible, not just read the Bible.
“Those who do not know God do not have the spiritual resources to walk pure before the Lord, but Christians do. Therefore, Christians should live differently than those who do not know God.” (David Guziak, Blue Letter Bible) We are to live out the Bible before the world. We are to seek to please God in all that we say and do. Paul was writing this letter to a culture that is much like ours today. The Roman Empire was steeped in sexual immorality, and godly virtues were scoffed at. But, Paul urged the brothers and sisters then to stay pure, to seek to please God and not the culture around them. We are to take the standards by which we live from God and not the culture around us.
We have been called to a higher standard, my fellow brothers and sisters. We have been called to not only read the Bible, but to live it. We have been called to please God not only in our words, but in our deeds. We have been called to reach for a prize, to press towards the high calling of God in our lives. We have been called out of the culture, the world, and into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to sanctification. If you are like me, and seeking to please God in all that you do, then your life will begin to read like the Bible. There are going to be times when we fall, when we do things that we know we shouldn't, when we do displease God, but it is through the process of sanctification, that constant growing, that constant desire to please Him that keeps us moving toward the prize. Paul urges us today to start living the Bible that we read. Pleasing God starts with faith, and as we grow and abound in our knowledge of Him, we will begin to please Him more and more. Live your Bible, don’t just read it.