How can you tell if you are pleasing God (John 8: 21-30)?

“I’m cleaning my room,” says 5-year-old Joseph. “People need room to walk so they don’t stumble. I don’t hurt anyone and that makes God happy!”

Whether you’re 5 or 50, cleaning your room is always a challenge. It reminds me of what Phyllis Diller said: “Housework can’t kill you, but why risk it?”

“You have to be nice to your neighbors who are whoever you see, or to your enemies as well,” says 8-year-old Sammy.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God, but the second greatest (love your neighbor as yourself) is like the first (Mark 12: 29-31). Have you ever wondered how loving your neighbor is like loving God? Also, does this include the neighbor turning his stereo too loud or speeding up his motorcycle at 1:00 am?

Loving your neighbor and loving your neighbor are two different things. God never commands us to please our neighbor. I don’t have to like my neighbor, his loud music, or his inconsiderate demeanor to love him. All I have to know is that God loves my neighbor.

I know from the Bible that my neighbors were created in the image of God, even though that image is clouded by sin. Yet Christ suffered and died for all my neighbors, even those who openly rebel and punch him in the face.

Do I have in me the ability to love my neighbor as myself? Not.

As a Christian, there is someone living in me who knows exactly how to love my neighbor. The apostle Paul referred to this heavenly inhabitant as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Christ who dwells in us is not only the hope of future glory for every Christian, he is also that hope of sanity in this present life.

Let’s be honest. There are some people who don’t like you and there isn’t much you can do to change their mind. In some situations, loving your neighbor may mean refraining from retaliating against a neighbor’s intentional behavior to get under their skin.

God likes it when you allow him to love people through you that you don’t even like. It’s easy to love people you like. It is the stinkers who will push you to trust in the power and resources of God.

Only God can love stinkers. After all, he loves you and me. Before God, we are all stinkers. Our stench area may differ, but that doesn’t make the stench any less offensive to a holy God.

“I know God is pleased when I set the table for dinner, when I help my mom with her purchases and when I do my chores,” says 7-year-old Avery.

Yes, even the mundane becomes opportunities to please God when you are living a life empowered by the Lord. This is how the apostle Paul described living under an open sky: “And whatever you do, do it from the heart, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

Think about it: Sometimes people think of pleasing God only as something huge like hearing God’s call to serve him on a distant mission field. Most of the time, pleasing God happens in an ordinary way. If you live life before an open sky, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. You live to please God, not just to get through the day.

Memorize this truth: Colossians 3:23 quoted above.

Ask this question: As a Christian, have you allowed the presence of Christ within you to transform your ordinary world into a wonderland full of opportunities to please God?

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