What pleases God?
It’s a question that many, many people have asked over thousands of years. It is the chief concern of nearly all religions.
In the Bible some religious leaders, called the Pharisees, were asking the same question.
They too wanted to please God. But like many today, they went about it the wrong way.
They were preoccupied with outward shows of ‘religion’ – doing good things to get on the right of God. But as far as God was concerned, they were, spiritually speaking, hollow men, empty and indeed wicked on the inside.
Jesus said to them, ‘‘... you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness’’ (Luke 11:39).
The point is clear; the religious leaders were more concerned with outward appearance than they were for what is going on inwardly — in their hearts.
Jesus went further and calls this hypocrisy.
The literal meaning of the word ‘hypocrite’ is ‘actor’ — someone who puts on a mask; who plays a part.
The Pharisees’ good deeds were an act; an outward show, but without any inward conviction toward God.
It is possible that if we think that by simply doing good things and being nice enough people — like being kind to others, helping the poor, being generous with our money, not swearing or getting drunk, and so on — that we can get into God’s good books and eventually into heaven.
But Jesus is impressing upon us that we first need an inward change of heart toward the things of God.
A heart that puts its faith in Jesus himself and his work and not our own efforts or our own performance.
Without such faith, none of our good works, as good as they may be, count for anything.
What pleases God is a changed heart from which our outward actions spring from.
~ Contributed by Pastor Chris Taylor of Deniliquin Baptist Church, on behalf of the Combined Churches of Deniliquin.