I’ve been pondering a thought lately. Sometimes using a new or different translation of the Bible can make words really jump off the page at you. The other day, I was reading Ephesians 5 in the New Living Translation and I came across this phrase, “Try and find out what pleases the Lord.” In the midst of some wise words on how to avoid being an evil fool (and who wants to be an evil fool, right?) Paul tells his readers that the key is to do this- try and find out what pleases the Lord. The 2nd edition of the NLT gets even better- “carefully determine what please the Lord.”
What I find compelling, or ironic, about this phrase is that I don’t have to “try” at all to find out what please me. I am quite aware of that. From the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed again, I am completely aware of what I find pleasing. I am aware of when I get what I want and find pleasure in life. I am equally adept at knowing exactly what makes me unhappy, or what does NOT please me.
But Paul is telling me to spend time trying to figure out what pleases God. Not that I think it’s a mystery- I mean, after all, the Bible is filled with plenty of good ideas on the topic. But what this passage says to me is that living in a way that pleases God will not come easily. It will take work. Effort. I’ll have to harness the power of my brain (little though it may be) and actually puzzle out what actions will bring joy to God.
It’s a different way to live, if you think about. We are all geared to think about what pleases ourselves. And if we’re honest, if I’m honest, most if not all the trouble in my life can be linked back to these self-driven pursuits.
So, I’m trying to take these words to heart. Give them a try on your journey and see what happens.