What Makes God Smile?
By Pastor Rick Warren
May the Lord smile on you.... Numbers 6:25
Smile on me, your servant; teach me the right way to live. Psalm 119:135
The smile of God is the goal of your life.
Since pleasing God is the first purpose of your life, your most importanta task is to discover how to do that. The Bible says, "Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it." Fortunately, the Bible gives us a clear example of a life that gives pleasure to God. The man's name was Noah.
In Noah's day, the entire world had become morally bankrupt. Everyone lived for their own pleasure, not God's. God couldn't find anyone on earth interested in pleasing him, so he was grieved and regretted making man. God became so disgusted with the human race that he considered wiping it out. But there was one man who made God smile. The Bible says, "Noah was a pleasure to the Lord."
God said, "This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I'll start over with his family." Because Noah brought pleasure to God, you and I are alive today. From his life we learn the five acts of worship that make God smile.
God smiles when we love him supremely. Noah loved God more than anything else in the world, even when no one else did! The Bibles tells us that for his entire life, "Noah consistently followed God's will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him."
This is what God wants most from you: a relationship! It's the most astounding truth in the universe--that our Creator wants to fellowship with us. God made you to love you, and he longs for you to love him back. He says, "I don't want your sacrifices--I want your love; I don't want your offerings--I want you to know me."
Can you sense God's passion for you in this verse? God deeply loves you and desires your love in return. He longs for you to know him and spend time with him. This is why learning to love God and be loved by him should be the greatest Objective of your life. Nothing else comes close in importance. Jesus called it the greatest commandment. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment."
God smiles when we trust him completely. The second reason Noah pleased God was that he trusted God, even when it didn't make sense. The Bible says, "By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn't see, and acted on what he was told...As a result, Noah became intimate with God."
Imagine this scene: One day God comes to Noah and says, "I'm disappointed in human beings. In the entire world, no one but you thinks about me. But Noah, when I look at you, I start smiling. I'm pleased with your life, so I'm going to flood the world and start over with your family. I want you to build a giant ship that will save you and the animals.
There were three problems that could have caused Noah to doubt. First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the Flood, God irrigated the earth from the ground up. Second, Noah lived hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. Even if he could learn to build a ship, how would he get it to water? Third, there was the problem of rounding up all the animals and then caring for them. But Noah didn't complain or make excuses. He trusted God completely, and that made God smile.
Trusting God completely means having faith that he knows what is best for your life. You expect him to keep his promises, help you with problems, and do the impossible when necessary. The Bible says, "He takes pleasure in those that honor Him in those who trust in His constant love."
It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. I imagine he faced many discouraging days. With no sign of rain year after year, he was ruthlessly criticized as a "crazy man who thinks God speaks to him." I imagine Noah's children were often embarrassed by the giant ship being built in their front yard. Yet Noah kept on trusting God.
In what areas of your life do you need to trust God completely? Trusting is an act of worship. Just as parents are pleased when children trust their love and wisdom, your faith makes God happy. The Bible says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
God smiles when we obey him wholeheartedly. Saving the animal population from a worldwide flood required great attention to logistics and details. Everything had to be done just as God prescribed it. God didn't say, "Build any old boat you'd like, Noah." He gave very detailed instuctions as to the size, shape, and materials of the ark as well as the different numbers of animals to be brought on board. The Bible tells us Noah's response: "So Hoah did everything exactly as God had commanded him."
Notice that Noah obeyed completely (no instruction was overlooked), and he obeyed exactly (in the way and time God wanted it done). That is wholeheartedness. It is no wonder God smiled on Noah.
If God asked you to build a giant boat, don't you think you might have a few questions, objections, or reservations? Noah didn't. He obeyed God wholeheartedly. That means doing whatever God asks without reservation or hesitation. You don't procrastinate and say, "I'll pray about it." You do it without delay. Every parent knows that delayed obedience is really disobedience.
God doesn't owe you an explanation or reason for everything he asks you to do. Understanding can wait, but obedience can't. Instant obedience will teach you more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, you will never understand some commands until you obey them first. Obedience unlocks understanding.
Often we try to offer God partial obedience. We want to pick and choose the commands we obey. We make a list of the commands we like and obey those while ignoring the ones we think are unreasonable, difficult, expensive, or unpopular. I'll attend church but I won't tithe. I'll read my Bible but won't forgive the person who hurt me. Yet partial obedience is disobedience.
Wholehearted obedience is done joyfully, with enthusiasm. The Bible says, "Obey him gladly." This is the attitude of David: "Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I'll wholeheartedly obey."
James, speaking to Christians, said, "We please God by what we do and not only by what we believe." God's Word is clear that you can't earn your salvation. It comes only by grace, not your effort. But as a child of God you can bring pleasure to your heavenly Father through obedience. Any act of obedience is also an act of worship. Why is obedience so pleasing to God? Because it proves you really love him. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments."
God smiles when we praise and thank him continually.
Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too. He smiles when we express our adoration and gratitude to him.
Noah's life brought pleasure to God because he lived with a heart of praise and thanksgiving. Noah's first act after surviving the Flood was to express his thanks to God by offering a sacrifice. The Bible says, "Then Noah built an altar to the LORD...and sacrificed burnt offerings on it."
Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we don't offer animal sacrifices as Noah did. Instead we are told to offer God "the sacrifice of praise" and "the sacrifice of thanksgiving." We praise God for who he is and we thank God for what he has done. David said, "I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD."
An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy!
My mother loved to cook for me. Even after I married Kay, when we would visit my parents, Mom prepared incredible homecooked feasts. One of her great pleasures in life was watching us kids eat and enjoy what she prepared. The more we enjoyed eating it, the more enjoyment it gave her.
But we also enjoyed pleasing Mom by expressing our enjoyment of her meal. It worked both ways. As I would eat the great meal, I would rave about it and praise my mother. I intended not only to enjoy the food but to please my mother. Everyone was happy.
Worship works both ways, too. We enjoy what God has done for us, and when we express that enjoyment to God, it brings him joy--but it also increases our joy. The book of Psalms says, "The righteous are glad and rejoice in his presence; they are happy and shout for joy."
God smiles when we use our abilities. After the Flood, God gave Noah these simple instructions: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth...Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."
God said, "It's time to get on with your life! Do the things I designed humans to do. Make love to your spouse. Have babies. Raise families. Plant crops and eat meals. Be humans! This is what I made you to be!"
You may feel that the only time God is pleased with you is when you're doing "spiritual" activities--like reading the Bible, attending church, praying, or sharing your faith. And you may think godis onconcerned about the other parts of your life. Acutally, God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether youa re working, playing, resting, or eating. He doesn't miss a single move you make. the Bible tells us, "The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives."
Every human activity, except sin, can be done for God's pleasure if you do it with an attitude of praise. You can wash dishes, repair a machine, sell a product, write a computer program, grow a crop, and raise a family for the glory of God.
Like a proud parent, God especially enjoys watching you use the talents and abilites he has given you. God intentionally gifted us differently for his enjoyment. He has made some to be athletic and some to be analytical. You maybe gifted at mechanics or mathematics or music or a thousand other skills. All these abilities can bring a smile to God's face. The Bible says, "He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do."
You don't bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be someone else. You only bring him enjoyment by being you. Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God's wisdom and sovereignty in creating you. God says, "You have no right to argue with your Creator. You are merely a clay pot shaped by a potter. The clay doesn't ask, 'Why did you make me this way?"
In the film, Chariots of Fire, Olympic runner Eric Liddell says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God's pleasure." Later he says, "To give up running would be to hold him in contempt." There are no unspiritual abilities, just misused ones. Start using yours for God's pleasure.
God also gains pleasure in watching you enjoy his creation. He gave you eyes to enjoy beauty, ears to enjoy sounds, your nose and taste buds to enjoy smells and tastes, and the nerves under your skin to enjoy touch. Every act of enjoyment becomes and act of worship when you thank God for it. In fact, the Bible says, "God...generously gives us everything for our enjoyment."
God even enjoys watching you sleep! When my children were small, I remember the deep satisfaction of watching them sleep. Sometimes the day had been filled with problems and disobedience, but asleep they looked contented, secure, and peaceful, and I was reminded of how much I love them.
My children didn't have to do anything for me to enjoy them. I was happy to just watch them breathing, because I loved them so much. As their little chests would rise and fall, I'd smile, and sometimes tears of joy filled my eyes. When you are sleeping, God gazes at you with love, because you were his idea. He loves you as if you were the only person on earth.
Parents do not require their children to be perfect, or even mature, in order to enjoy them. They enjoy them at every stage of development. In the same way, God doesn't wait for you to reach maturity before he starts liking you. He loves and enjoys you at every stage of your spiritual development.
You may have had unpleasable teachers or parents as you were growing up. Please don't assume God feels that way about you. He knows you are incapable of being perfect or sinless. The Bible says, "He certainly knows what we are made of. He bears in mind that we are dust."
What God looks at is the attitude of your heart: Is pleasing him your deepest desire? This was Paul's life goal: "More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there." When you live in light of eternity, your focus changes from "How much pleasure am I getting out of life?" to "How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?"
God is looking for people like Noah in the twenty-first century--people willing to live for the pleasure of God. The Bible says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who are wise, who want to please God."
Will you make pleasing God the goal of your life? There is nothing that God won't do for the person totally absorbed with this goal.
Pastor Rick Warren is the Sr. Pastor of Saddleback Church
Please visit the website at www.saddleback.com