1682) Pleasing God

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By C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

     As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk:  but no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son.  In the same way, he said, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”

     I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam or of a bargain in his mind.  The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits.  When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up.  They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded!  In fact, of course, He knows all about this.  One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits.  God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam or putting Him in your debt.

     Then comes another discovery.  Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God.  If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.  So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like.  It is like a small child going to his father and saying, “Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.”  Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present.  It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the  transaction.  When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work.  It is after this that real life begins.

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Psalm 115:1  —  Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 4:7  —  For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1 Corinthians 1:31  —  Therefore, as it is written:  “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24  —  This is what the Lord says:  “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:   that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

Hebrews 5:11-14  —  We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

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Lord, I pray that You would fill us with hope and joy and expectation that You have the power to put Your hand on us, and grant us the will to do what You command.  You have made it plain:  We are responsible to do what You tell us to do.  But we know that in ourselves we do not have the will to do it.  And so we cry with Augustine, ‘Lord, command what You will, and give what You command.’  Leave us not to ourselves.  Have mercy.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen.    

— John Piper, Life as a Vapor