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Text: Ephesians 5:8-17

“Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10 ESV)

My daughter learned many skills as a competitive gymnast for eight years. As graceful as she was at the sport, it was no overnight task learning to do Freehips, Giants, Fly Aways, Back Tucks, and Straddle Press Handstands. Stephanie trained for twenty-two hours a week to learn these incredible skills. Consequently, her mother and I learned the skill of diligent prayer for her safety every time we saw her get up on that balance beam!

The Bible is chock full of principles about honing skills for godly living. The book of Proverbs was written to help young people gain wisdom and apply themselves to pursuits that honor God. Young Timothy was mentored to “train” himself for “godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). The writer of Hebrews tells us that spiritual maturity is “for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

In the book of Ephesians, Paul is writing to believers who were once in darkness, indulging in all the unfruitful pleasures of the world, but who were now trying to “imitate” what it means to walk as children of light—doing what is good, right, and true (Ephesians 5:9).

These worshipers in Ephesus were instructed to live like people who had been awakened from the dead, to wisely make the best use of their time in a hostile world, to keenly discern what was pleasing to God, and to understand what was in accordance with His will for their lives.

One of the greatest skills we can sharpen as a follower of Jesus Christ is to approach every decision, behavior, and action in life with a simple question:

“Does it please the Lord?”

We live in a society where everyone seems to do what is pleasing to self. As believers, we’re called to march to the beat of a different drum. Our aim should always be about pleasing God first and foremost.

What if we “trained ourselves” to ask this question before every plan we devised… before every business venture we engaged in and every dream we pursued… in regard to how we posture ourselves when we are in a disagreement with our spouse… in our tone with how we speak to our children… in how we relate to our coworkers and colleagues, or talk about others when they are not in the room: Does it please the Lord?

What if we became skilled in asking this question before responding when someone provokes us with sarcasm, gossip, slander, road rage, or just plain… stupidity? What if we became conditioned to asking this question as it pertains to our personal or family entertainment, or how we engage our social lives?

As basic as it may sound, let’s not forget that an increasing desire to please God is a sure mark of a maturing believer. And just like sports’ trainers need to often remind athletes to return to the very fundamentals of the game, we need to return to the very basics of what it looks like to walk as children of the light: Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, teach us the skill of seeking your pleasure in every aspect of our lives. We live for your glory and the joy of doing life in fellowship with you. Help us to be often mindful of this all-important question: Does it please you? Holy Spirit, grant us the desire to live for the pleasure of the everlasting kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. What is one of the sharpest skills you have developed over time? How did you hone that skill?
  2. Why do you think it was important for Paul to instruct young Timothy to “train” himself for “godliness”?
  3. Why do you think scripture correlates godly training with spiritual maturity?
  4. What do you think your life would look like if you gave yourself to God’s pleasure in every decision, every pursuit, and every relational response?
  5. What can you do this week to become more mindful of asking in every situation: Does this please God?

 
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Jimmy is a speaker, author, and founder of Breakaway Outreach; a missions network aimed at empowering the lives of youth, children, and under-served communities with gospel transformation and social resilience.