Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:29-30

 

Ephesians 4:30 says that we are not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” In context, grieving the Spirit comes when we use our words to tear people down rather than building them up.

One day flower in bloom In last Thursday’s devotion, I began to wonder about something suggested by the notion of grieving the Spirit: Can we also give God joy? I think this question deserves a clear biblical answer. So, the rest of this reflection will be unusual: not an exposition of this verse from Ephesians, but rather a collection of biblical texts that help us answer the question of whether or not we can give joy to God. Tomorrow I’ll wrap up this conversation with some concluding thoughts. Today I encourage you to take time to reflect on these amazing passages regarding our giving joy to God.

I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an ox. (Psalm 69:30-31)

For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory. (Psalm 149:4)

No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:4-5)

The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:4-7)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

P.S. – Other biblical passages that speak of God’s pleasure or joy include: Leviticus 1:9; Psalm 104:31-34; Psalm 147:11; Proverbs 15:8; Luke 10:21; Ephesians 5:10; and Colossians 1:10.

Something to Think About:

As you pondered these passages, how did you respond? What did you think? What did you feel?

Did anything stand out to you as unexpected?

How might God be speaking to you through these passages today?

Something to Do:

Take time to reflect on God’s delight in you. Talk to God about how you think and feel. Be open to an experience of God’s delight in you.

Prayer:

Gracious God, it does astound me that I can actually please you. I sometimes have a hard time believing that I can make a difference to you. Yet your Word is clear  and amazing. You delight in your people. Indeed, you rejoice in us, even with singing. How I long to hear that song, Lord!

O God, I thank you that your delight in me is not based on my own righteousness, but rather on that righteousness you give me by grace through Christ. Still, I am encouraged by the fact that I can please you by offering my whole self to you as a living sacrifice. May my life give you joy! Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
The Claimant’s Psalm (based on Psalm 69)