How to Please God

Advice from Solomon and the book of Hebrews.

Ben White


HAVE YOU EVER PONDERED the daunting prospect of trying to please God?

Our God is omnipotent, so he doesn't need anything. And he's holy so we can never live up to his standard of morality.

How then can one possibly please God? Is it even possible?

Yes, it's possible, as you'll see, and the approach is actually pretty straightforward—though it might not be what you think. We'll take cues from Solomon and Job for an Old Testament, pre-messianic perspective and then the book of Hebrews to gain a more complete picture.

Before we dive in, though, here's the short answer:

How can you please God? Have faith.

Clear as a prepubescent's complexion, right?

Okay, maybe not that clear. Let's investigate further.

How to Find Peace in Your Relationship with God

Before we begin, though, we should get one thing straight.

Don't confuse God's pleasure with you and his love for you. The two are different things.

For example, sometimes I am displeased with my children because of their behavior, but that doesn't mean I don't love them. I never stop loving them even though they might disobey me or do something boneheaded—even though I'm not pleased with them in the moment.

Christian author Brennan Manning of The Ragamuffin Gospel fame wrote about this very thing. He wrote:

If the question were put to you, “Do you honestly believe that God likes you?”—not loves you, because theologically He must—how would you answer? God loves by necessity of His nature; without the eternal, interior generation of love, He would cease to be God. But if you could answer, “The Father is very fond of me,” there would come a relaxedness, a serenity and a compassionate attitude toward yourself that is a reflection of God’s own tenderness.[1]

God loves all people, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's pleased with them.

How good would it feel to know that God delights in you? How relaxing would it be? We could all take a break from trying so hard and just revel in the fact that we belong to him.

Solomon's Guide to Pleasing God

First, let's turn to King Solomon for advice.

In Proverbs 11:20 he wrote, "Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight."

Notice the contrast here. Those with crooked hearts are bent toward evil; they lean that way. Evil is their first instinct. I can't help but recall the book of Genesis in which God surveyed the wickedness of mankind on the earth prior to the flood. The verse tells us, "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).

That's what it looks like to have a crooked heart.

So when Solomon talks about the crooked-hearted, he's not referring to someone who slips up every once in a while. He's not talking about those who sin on occasion.

Even the most pious sin. Though we may be new creations in Christ, we still live in a fallen world with corrupt bodies.

This is important to keep in mind as we transition to the next part of the stanza in order to get closer to the heart of the question at hand. Solomon wrote, "those of blameless ways are [the LORD's] delight."

The word blameless in this passage carries the idea of completeness or totality. Therefore those who have integrity in all facets of life will delight God.

So in order to please God, then, we have to be perfect. Got it. I'll get right on that.

Not so fast. While the verse implies perfection, our part is to have a sincere heart with respect for God. How do we accomplish that?

Why God Called Job Blameless

Perhaps it would be helpful to revisit our old friend Job. The first chapter of Job's book tells us that he was indeed "blameless." What does that mean? Well, let's look at what the chapter says about how Job lived his life.

Job "feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1). He respected and revered his creator, and, as a result refused to give in to sin. He also "continually" offered sacrifices to God on behalf of his children in attempts to intercede for them (Job 1:5).

That's pretty much all we know about Job's actions, but it's enough to get us started in the right direction. Job feared and worshiped God with his whole heart. He turned away from evil in every area of his life.

Job was a man with such a high level of integrity that God even boasted about him to satan.

I don't know about you, but that's the kind of life I want to lead—a life that pleases God. (Although I could do without all of that tragedy that came next.)

Still, though, two problems emerge with these two Old Testament examples. First, they seem too ambiguous. If we know we can't be perfect, yet we are supposed to live "blameless" lives, what exactly does that mean? Do we need to give to the poor, sacrifice two lambs every day, and abstain from alcohol?

Second, this qualification seems like an impossible standard to achieve. Again, because God is holy, I could never live up to his standard of perfection.

So what are we to do?

Let's look to the book of Hebrews for some clarity.

The One Thing You Must Have if You Want to Please God

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6. If you're looking for how to please God, this verse is money:

"And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Therefore, those who want to please God must possess faith.

Are you starting to connect the dots?

Solomon said God delights in the blameless, but as you know, we can't be blameless on our own. We are all born into sin, and, in this natural state have crooked hearts.

Therefore, the only solution, as the author of Hebrews notes, is to to place faith in Jesus.

There's no amount of good deeds we can perform to please God. We can't go on enough mission trips, donate enough money, or pray hard enough. Why not? Because faith is the only avenue to blamelessness.

1 John 1:9 tells us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Jesus died for us so that we could be cleansed from unrighteousness. All we need to do is place our faith in him. And when we do God makes us blameless, and he is pleased by our faith.

That's the secret to pleasing God.

You might object that Job was considered blameless, but he never trusted in Jesus, so there must be another way, right?

As someone who lived prior to the revelation of Jesus as a human, Job was held to a different standard than post-resurrection humanity is held to. He did not have the luxury of Christ. Make no mistake though, Job had faith. He turned his back on evil because he feared God. He offered sacrifices because he believed in God.

We see Job's faith displayed several times, most notably in his reaction to the tragedy that crashed into his life. Job said, "Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

But today, with the advantage we have in living after Christ's revelation, God holds us to a different standard. The only way to be blameless is to place faith in Jesus. We can't ever be good enough to match God's standard of morality, but in bowing a knee to Christ, we receive grace—God's unmerited favor.

Nothing pleases him more.

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in my curated, chronological Old Testament reading plan with notes. I've combed through the first portion of the Bible and selected the most critical chapters for your perusal, wrapped up in a 90-day reading plan.

Whether you've read through the OT before or always get stuck at Leviticus, this guide will help you gain a deeper understanding of God's word as a whole.

The guide is free if you want it. It will only cost you your email address, but you can unsubscribe from the list at any time with one click. Just enter your email address below, and I'll send the reading guide your way.



1. Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2004), 26, Kindle Edition. 
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