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It is interesting that the Greek term for excellence is derived from the same root as the word meaning “to please.” There is a strong link between spiritual excellence and a desire to please God. The Lord Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father (John 8:29). At the same time, He did not live selfishly, to please Himself (Rom. 15:3). His life was entirely determined by the will of God for Him, and doing that will, He found pleasure (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38) and pleased God.

The concept of pleasing God is especially important for the Apostle Paul. Indeed, it was the goal and controlling ambition of his life, for, as he writes to the church in Corinth, “We make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Cor. 5:9, NIV). Only a believer indwelt by the Spirit can please God, for “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). A further prerequisite is faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him (God).” (Heb. 11:6). The ambition to please God determines a person’s commitment of life (Rom. 12:1; 2 Tim. 2:4), his daily walk (Col. 1:10; 1 Thes. 4:1), his spiritual priesthood (Heb. 13:15-16), and his relationships (Col. 3:20). The believer tests everything in life, “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10). A man who lives to please people by making their approval of more importance than God’s stands condemned (Gal. 1:10), as does an individual determined to please only himself, regardless of the impact on others (Rom. 15:1-3)

Gary Inrig, “A Call to Excellence,” Victor Books, Wheaton, ILL, 1985, pp. 55

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