While in the midst of crippling fear and anxiety, I would often think God was not pleased with me. If he was pleased with me, then surely he would take this fear away. Surely he would pour out peace and give me a strong mind. But, the fear kept coming and so I assumed God was not happy with me. Maybe it was sin. Maybe it was my thought life. Maybe I didn’t spend enough quiet time with God. What could I do to please him?
The more I searched–what could I do to please God–the more I realized that there was nothing I could do to please God. He was perfect. He required perfection. He is a holy God, and cannot look upon sin. His standard of righteousness was beyond my reach. There was nothing I could do to be holy or worthy. This fact is even confirmed in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” This was not good news.
All that was compounded by this gnawing sensation that something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I do better? Why couldn’t I spend more time with God? Why couldn’t I overcome this bad habit? Why couldn’t I shake this feeling of fear? What was wrong with me?
I was really feeling hopeless.
That gnawing sensation, I learned later, was shame. And, it was relentless. It made me feel bad, and it never let up. It was a constant voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough, or that I would never be good enough. People who struggle with shame have one of two responses. Either they constantly beat themselves up trying harder to please God only to fail, or they just give up the notion of being good altogether and choose to rebel. Why bother with being good, they declare boldly.
Neither of those responses are good nor healthy. In fact, they are quite destructive.
So, is there hope? Yes!
The answer is twofold. First, you do please God and second, there is no more shame.
First of all, you please God in Christ. Those thoughts I had about displeasing God–my sins, my failures–were not from God. If you have truly surrendered your life to Christ and put your trust in him, then you please God. The Divine exchange happened when you believed. All of your sins were taken off you and put on to Christ at the Cross. And, all of Jesus’ righteousness was put on you. Now, your sins are remembered no more (Hebrews 8:12). You are declared a child of God (1 John 3:1). The Father has given you his Kingdom (Luke 12:32). In Christ, you please God!
Secondly, the shame of all your sins–past, present and future–is gone. Jesus took all your shame on the Cross. The reason we experience shame today is that we don’t believe we are free from sin. We strive to please God in our own strength and efforts, and fail because God’s standard is perfection. We don’t realize that our efforts to please God do nothing but hurt us and hinder us. They are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
When we try to please God in our own strength and our own efforts, we are saying that the Christ’s death on the cross is not enough. We need to do more.
Romans 4:4 declares that gifts are given freely and wages are earned, and that eternal life is a gift. We cannot earn it. Galatians 2:6 also confirms that no flesh shall be justified (made right with God) by our efforts and our works.
The key is that we believe what the Bible says about our righteousness, that it’s a gift, not earned.
Do you know what pleases God? The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 that faith pleases God. In other words, when we believe (faith) that we are righteous through the works of Christ and not through our efforts and strength, then God is pleased with us.
I have found incredible peace and freedom in this truth. My striving, my work, my efforts to please God are gone. I please God! He’s happy with me!
Prayer: Father, show me this week that I am righteous and justified by what I believe not what I do. Show me that I am pleasing to you in Christ.