If I make my primary motive to please God (versus trusting God – which pleases Him), I quickly find myself on a treadmill that I cannot get off. I find myself thinking, “what must I do to keep God pleased with me…How do I know when I have done enough…am I giving God my best?…better try harder – after all God’s standard is holiness.” Whenever I make the underlying motive of my life to please God, I am trapped in a life of self-effort. Not only can I not get off the treadmill, I am chained to it. Day and night I try to be good enough so God is pleased. I am trapped and I am living without the good news of the Gospel.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” If the underlying motive of my life is to trust God, He is pleased with me!
God has already done a miraculous work in us. We have a new nature. I don’t have to, by my relentless hard work and effort, try to become somebody different than who I am so that God will be pleased. But now, by a spirit-empowered effort, I can live out of what He has already done in me and who He has made me to be. The foundation of that effort is trusting that what He has said He has done in me is true. That trust pleases Him.