Jesus Never Pleased Himself
I Thessalonians 4:1-7
1 For the rest therefore, brethren, we pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us, how you ought to walk, and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.
2 For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication;
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour:
5 Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God:
6 And that no man overreach, nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and have testified.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification.
Let me ask you a question: Is the Lord well-pleased with what you are doing?
This question is a good question because the Scriptures reveal in Revelation 4:11 'that God hast created all things; and for His pleasure they were, and have been created.' It also provides the ultimate reason why God earnestly wants us to put on the new man and thus grow in the image of Christ. Because it is this particular image that pleases Him the most. When God can see the image of Christ being formed in you, He is pleased with what He sees. And you would have then fulfilled your role as God's creature- to bring great pleasure unto Him.
How pleased is God with the image of Christ in us?
One indication of how much He is pleased can be found in what God the Father said about Christ on at least two occasions which show how greatly He delights in His only begotten Son. He said in an audible voice that all could hear, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” One took place at the time that Christ was baptized (Matthew 3:17), and the other was at the time that Christ was transfigured in our gospel reading for today Matthew 17:5.
So in what way did Jesus please the Father?
In Romans 15:3 - it is written about Jesus that "He did not please Himself". He always denied Himself. Thus He pleased the Father at all times.
Pleasing oneself can be done in many areas of one's life - for example, in the area of eating. Consider a situation where, even when you are not hungry, you decide to spend some money to buy a Frosty from Wendy's to eat. There is certainly nothing sinful or wrong in a Chocolate Frosty from Wendy's. But it speaks of a certain way of life. Because you have money, you buy what you like, whether you need it or not. You do what pleases yourself. If you feel like buying something, you buy it. If you feel like going somewhere, you go. If you feel like sleeping late, you just sleep late. What is the end result of living like that, even if you go regularly to Mass and read your Bible every day? You will waste the one life that God gave you to live for Him.
Another brother however acts differently. He decides to discipline his body. When he is not hungry, he decides not to eat anything unnecessarily. He decides never to buy any unnecessary things for himself. He decides to get up 15 minutes earlier each day to spend time with God. When someone speaks to him angrily, he decides to reply gently. He decides to remain in love and goodness always. He decides not to read certain magazines or watch certain things that will stimulate his lusts. In every situation, he decides to humble himself and not to justify himself. He decides to give up certain friendships that are influencing him towards the world. Through constantly deciding to deny his own will (what pleased him), he becomes strong in his will to please God alone.
What did he lose by not buying that unnecessary thing, or by getting out of bed 15 minutes earlier, or by giving up his human sense of dignity and asking for forgiveness? Nothing. But think of what he has gained!
A man like that, who is consistently faithful in the little things, will in a few years' time become a trustworthy man of God - not because of the Bible-knowledge that he possesses, but because of his faithfulness in the little decisions he makes in life not to please Himself but to please God.
Don't be weak-willed then. Exercise your will to please God at all times.
Mature Christians are those who "those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14).
Consider an illustration: Two fat men go to a doctor to remove their flabbiness. The doctor gives them a course of exercises for the next twelve months. One man goes through the discipline of those exercises consistently every day, and slims down and becomes strong. The other man does the exercises for the first few days and then slackens off and finally gives up altogether. His pot-belly gets fatter and fatter with his in disciplined ways, until he finally dies prematurely. This is an illustration of how we can either make our wills strong to do God's will, or leave them flabby and weak for the devil to exploit.
I read once of a young Priest who felt that he had been watching too much television (even though he had been watching only clean programs), and who decided one day not only to sell his TV set, but also to use the time that he had spent watching TV, in prayer every day. As a direct result of that little decision that he took - and maintained - God gave him a ministry that blessed thousands. Those who see nothing wrong in watching clean programs over TV, find that God does not entrust them with much - for He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and there is no partiality with Him.
Yes, you are what you are today because of those many, many little decisions that you have taken in relation to either denying yourself or pleasing yourself in the areas of food, money, sleep, reading, etc.,
So forget the blunders that you have made in life. Repent radically of your sins and be wholehearted in the days to come. God forgives you and blots out your past. Don't mope over your failures now, or you will be a drifter in the future too. The memory of your failures will help you to recognize that you are what you are only by the grace of God. It will also enable you to keep your face in the dust at all times before God.
Knowing how well pleased God the Father is with Christ, His only begotten Son, let us press on to bear as fully as we can, the image of Christ in us. This is how we all can walk well pleasing unto God.