"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."

// Ephesians 5:8-10

Our minds and souls seem so wired to do, do, do, that we tend to read things into the Word that aren’t there at all. “…And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” is one such example; a first look would make us think that we have to do things that please Him. But the trouble with that thought is it puts emphasis on what we do rather than where the weight of Paul’s statement actually falls: “what is pleasing to the Lord.” And notice in those verses that Paul never says that we have to do anything to please the Lord! He says, “try to discern,” not “try to do.”

Paul asks us to discern what pleases the Lord, but now we aren’t discerning it from a place of darkness but of light. Recall that, in the darkness of our ignorance and sin, we labored and worked and toiled as slaves? Well, why would Paul, who wrote that God delivered us from that slave world, ever want to imply that we had to do anything to please the Lord?

In his gospel, Luke records that when Jesus emerged out of the water at His baptism, the heavens opened around Him, the Spirit descended to rest on Him, and the Father boomed out, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (see Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus hadn’t done anything at all — He had not performed one miracle or delivered one sermon yet — and yet God already declared His pleasure in Christ.

Christ’s baptism tells us that, in order to be pleased with us, all God requires of us is our faith. We are born again by faith, and that alone pleases God. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for repentance of sins, because He was sinless, but He did it for us, so that when we are born again by faith, we’d understand that what God said over Jesus that day is what He’d say over us the day we are born again (and every day thereafter)!

Because it’s faith that pleases God, when Paul tells us “to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” it’s really an invitation to explore what life in the Light of His pleasure looks like. Paul is saying, “Take faith out for a spin and see what it can do! Push your faith to its limits and find out just how pleased He already is with you. Live in the light, live like what He did is enough—that is the true life, one lived only to please God!”

I bet we would live very differently if we lived like the Gospel is true, if we lived like He is already pleased with us, don’t you? I don’t think we’d find fear comfortable anymore, because faith fits us so much better. I don’t think we’d find sin and darkness worth staying in, since living life bathed in the light of His pleasing smile over us means walking in the fullness of the Son’s love. “Walk as children of light.”