On Pleasing the Lord

August 21, 2016
Colossians 3:12-4:1
Abraham Hong

 

Part 1: People and Relationships

One of the hardest things in life are people and relationships. So much drama and stress come from other human beings. And all human beings are sinful beings. With sin comes often conflict and pain. Many couples struggle to love one another and many marriages end up in divorce. Many families and homes are dysfunctional. Many people resent their bosses and do not like their jobs. People and relationships are hard.

Believers in Christ are not immune to this reality in life. Christians have it hard as well. We have to deal with people and relationships too.

But while life for us who are Christians is often difficult, it is not complicated. Our motivation for everything is simply the love of the Lord. We do what we do because we have a king and because we want to please him.

Remember God’s Word where is says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is not complicated.

Part 2: For King…

This idea is largely foreign to us. When was the last time you loved a lord or a king? Probably never. And that’s because most of us have never lived under an earthly lord or king. In America, the only lords or kings in existence are ourselves. On the other hand, it’s no coincidence that the best Christian fiction, stories such as Narnia or Lord of the Rings, have to do with lords and kings.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus is our Lord, and pleasing the Lord is the center of all earthly relationships. Your relationship with your spouse, your relationships within your family, and your relationships in the workplace - they all start and end with whether or not you love the Lord.

This is what it really means to be “Christ-centered.” You are Christ-centered in your marriage when you love your spouse because you love your Lord. You are Christ-centered at home when you obey your parents because you want to please Jesus. You are Christ-centered in the workplace when you obey your employers because you fear God.

You are not Christ-centered in your marriage if you love your spouse because you really love yourself. You are not Christ-centered at home if you obey your parents because you want something from them. You are not Christ-centered in the workplace if you’re just trying to suck up to your boss or if you’re just doing it all for the money.

No matter who you are with and what you are doing, you are Christ-centered if you’re always thinking about Jesus Christ first and how to obey and trust and worship and love him.

This is step one for blessedness in any relationship. And it is a step that can never be skipped. Why do we love our spouses? We love our spouses because we love God first. Step one. Why do we obey our parents and not provoke or discourage our children? We do so because we want to please the Lord first. Step one. Why do we do our jobs heartily for our employers and accept wrongs at our workplaces? We do so because we actually work for Christ and serve and fear him. Step one. Unlike the rest of the world, our motivation in all things is Christ the king.

And we want to please him because of who he is and what he has done for us. In the words of the Heidelberg Catechism: Why do you call him our Lord? Because he has ransomed us, body and soul, from all our sins, not with silver or gold but with his precious blood, and has freed us from all the power of the devil to make us his own possession. In the words of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. In the words of Colossians: We want to please him because he created us, because all things are for him, and because he is the head of the church. We want to please him because of his body and his blood for us, his forgiveness and resurrection life, his qualification of us to share in the inheritance, his deliverance from the domain of darkness, and his transfer of us to his kingdom. In other words: We want to please the Lord because he has loved us, because he loves us, and because he always will.

Brothers and sisters, let us be a church that pleases the Lord. And let us do so in our relationships.

Do you remember algebra? Do you remember having to solve those equations by plugging in certain variables? You could do all the steps correctly, but if you start with the wrong variables in the beginning, you will always end up with the wrong answer (though you may get partial credit!). But when it comes to people and relationships, it’s not complicated. Start with step one. Start with pleasing the Lord.

When I think about the book of Proverbs, I’m reminded of the fact that the fear of the Lord is the beginning, the correct step one, the right starting variable, for wisdom in life. I’m personally learning the truth of this. I’ve spent most of my life skipping step one. But it’s beginning to dawn on me that the fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom. Pleasing the Lord is the beginning and the end for any kind of blessedness in our relationships.

Brothers and sisters, let us be a church that pleases the Lord. And let us do so in our relationships.

Children are to obey their parents. They are to honor their fathers and show love toward their mothers. They are to abide by rules, listen to good instruction, joyfully carry out commands, and receive loving correction.

Fathers are not to provoke or discourage their children. Fathers are not to overload them with commands. Fathers are not to love them conditionally. Fathers are not to show favoritism. Fathers are not to nitpick every single fault. Fathers are not to physically or verbally abuse their children. Fathers are not to humiliate them.

Employees are to obey their employers. They are to work heartily for the sake of Christ and his glory. They are to fear God and not man. They are to be patient when wronged. They are to trust in the sovereignty and justice of the Lord.

Employers are to treat their employees justly and fairly. They are to do so knowing that they too have a Master in heaven.

Brothers and sisters, let us be a church that pleases the Lord. And let us do so in our relationships.

Part 3: For King… and For Country

Step one for blessedness in any relationship is to please the Lord and be Christ-centered. Step two for blessedness in any relationship is to see what is unseen. When you are tempted to fight with your spouse, look toward heaven and try to imagine what Jesus’ face might look like if you exploded. See what is unseen. When you come home from a hard day at work, consider your inheritance and reward in heaven with Christ. See what is unseen. When you are at home, listen to your parents in order to put a smile on Jesus’ face. See what is unseen. When you are treated wrongly by your employer, don’t worry about it. The Lord sees everything - your employer’s sins, and yours too, don’t forget. See what is unseen.

Relationships start to break down real fast if you don’t keep heaven in mind. I encourage you to have faith and hope in the better country that awaits us. And I hope that such faith in Christ Jesus and such hope laid up in heaven will propel you to love all the saints.

At the end of Narnia, Peter Pevensie prepares to go to battle. And as he leads the charge, he cries out, “For Narnia! And for Aslan!” Brothers and sisters, in the same way, we pledge allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ. And we seek first the kingdom of God. We do all that we do because we love our Savior. And we have strength to keep doing what we do because we look forward to heaven. In other words, brothers and sisters, we have a king and we belong to a better country. So, for king and for country, let us do what we do.

End