Love is still the most prized commodity on earth. Some say that God loves everyone, and that is true (John 3:16). But in these sentimental days, it is important to understand that the 'love of God' and the 'pleasure of God' are different. Let's take a moment to think it through, because God the Father told God the Son of both His love and His pleasure. Jesus' baptism marked the beginning of His earthly ministry. It started by sharing the dirty bathwater with sinful people (Matthew 3:13-15) and ended bearing their sin in His own body when He died on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). He did it because He loves us (John 3:16) and loved Father God (Luke 22:42). And the Father was pleased.
God does not do loving things just because He wants to be nice, or as a strategy to get people to like Him. He loves because that is His nature (1 John 4:16). It is therefore natural for God to tell people that He loves them, because He does! He cannot be false to His nature. So, when Jesus heard that His Father loved Him, God was expressing His essential character, because God is love (1 John 4:8). Unlike us fickle humans, God's love cannot vary in quantity or quality. Nothing we can do will make God love us any more or any less. Put like that, do you think that God loves you any less than He loves Jesus? The answer to that question also applies to the best of your friends and the worst of your enemies.
What does vary is the pleasure that God derives from us. God is pleased with our obedience and loving service, and grieved by our disobedience (Ephesians 4:30). The extent of God's pleasure with us, is the measure of our true fellowship with Him. Because nothing delights God more than our loving obedience, He will keep on acting in such a way as to bring us back to the place of obedience - where we can appreciate His pleasure. That is the most loving thing He can do, because His will is always for our highest good, as well as His glory.
Jesus was obedient in coming to earth to die for the sins of the world, and God the Father was very pleased with Him. Jesus said that if we loved Him we would keep His commandments (John 14:15). That applies as much to our workdays as our Sundays. If the working world understands that loyalty and obedience should be rewarded, why should Christians forget? These words from Philippians 2:12-13 (New Living Translation) should help us to follow the example of Jesus: "Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Live today to bring pleasure to the Lord.
© Dr Paul Adams