What do we have to do to please God?
Are we doing enough? Pulling our weight? In a perfect enough marriage? Raising our kids right? Giving substantially? Serving sacrificially? Really rolling Holy?
What is the measuring stick? Maybe we should compare ourselves to others.
Hmmm. That might be painful. Compared to Homeschooling Helen you might feel as if you should drop off your neglected kids at the doorsteps of the rectory. As a single mom working two jobs, how can you possibly stack up?
Then there’s Benevolent Bob. He’s donated enough to fund the new church wing. But you? Your annual contribution is barely enough to cover the communion crackers.
Don’t even start with Missionary Mel, who speaks three languages and has visited four continents and thirty countries. You? As the sole caretaker of your ailing mother, you haven’t been able to leave your county, let alone the country.
Of course, we can’t forget about Evangelical Ed, who has notches all over his worn leather Bible reflecting the many people he’s brought to the Lord. Unfortunately, you can’t even get your neighbor to join you at a Sunday service.
That must make you a genuine disappointment in God’s eyes, right?
Keeping up with the Jones isn’t merely a problem we face in the world. It is even more exhausting and futile in the church.
Of course, it’s wonderful that Helen, Bob, Mel and Ed are serving with excellence in the way that God leads them. We should never be so petty to discount anyone else’s efforts in serving the Lord, just because we think we’re falling short.
But, if you’re a bit worn out and always feeling as if you’re under-performing, here’s some relief:
Regardless of the limitations of our circumstances, we each have an unlimited capacity to please God.
In fact, in the Book of Micah, we learn that God isn’t all that impressed with the material gifts we may offer Him:
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
Ten thousand rivers of olive oil! And all we have is this measly gallon of oil to offer as a sacrifice. Shall we rush back to the olive tree and try to pick faster, more efficiently, more effectively? Stay up later? Work harder? We can. But that is not really what God wants from us.
Read on as Micah’s verse continues:
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
That’s it! We don’t need 10,000 rivers of olive oil? And here we’ve been spending most of our life neck deep in olives?
Well…don’t get too excited. Being able to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord is a much grander accomplishment. Because it goes entirely against our human nature. It will take much prayer, discipline and dedication for you to be successful.
But here’s the beauty about these requirements from God:
You don’t have to be blessed with an exorbitance in riches or time. You don’t have to keep up with the Jones. You don’t have to work until you pass out.
Everyone with a heart for God, can please God.
In fact, Jesus teaches us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. So if you’re feeling burned out, you’ve probably been lighting the wrong candle.
So relax. Put down your olives. And walk humbly with our Lord.
Because, if you get that part right, not only will you please God, but the spiritual rivers of your life will flow with abundance.
Want more of Michael? Check out The Bear that Ate Your Marriage
Learn more about the author Michael K. Reynolds