As we head into 2022, many of us will be reflecting upon the previous year and making decisions about how we may want to improve in the coming year. It is when we resolve, or make up our minds, to make positive changes in our lives. Some people resolve to exercise more, eat healthy, lose weight, save money, be more organized etc. Others may choose to read more or learn a new skill.
I don’t know about you, but I have recently realized that much of my prayer time is self-centered. Even when praying for other people, it is often because I care for that person. Like most people, praying for those whom I do not like does not come naturally. I find myself making self-centered requests. Sure, I thank the Lord and praise Him, but most of the time my prayers consist of help me with this or help me with that, or help so-and-so with this or that.
It occurred to me that I have not been a very good friend to the Greatest Friend of all time. Think about it: what if you were in a relationship with someone who was constantly asking something from you, and sure they may say thank you, but they never bother to inquire about how you feel or what you think or what you want? It seems a very one-sided relationship doesn’t it? Yes, I found myself treating God like he was some sort of wish-granter… A cosmic genie. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord delights in His children and He wants to give us good things, but He does not exist to serve us. We exist to serve Him!
It also occurred to me that so often I think of God as very serious and lacking in emotion. And if He does express emotion, it is usually jealousy or anger. Since we know that God is love and we know that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, He certainly expresses those emotions as well. So I asked Him, “Lord, what makes you smile?”
That is when I realized my goal for 2022. I want my words, actions, and every fiber of my being to make Him smile. I want to bring Him joy. I want Him to smile, not because I think I may be blessed in some way, but because I love Him. After all, He loved and saved me even though I don’t even come close to deserving it.
So how do we bring Him joy?
The very first thing we do that brings God joy is to accept His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. He gave us the Best of Heaven and it brings Him joy when we claim it, receive it, and appreciate it.
In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, John 1:12
Once we have become a child of God, then it makes sense that we bring Him joy in a similar manner in which our children bring us joy. As a mother I think of those things which my children do that make me smile and bring me joy. Those moments when they say or do something that makes me proud of them, though their very existence makes me proud.
Faith and Trust:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
It pleases God when we trust Him; when we take Him at His word and we have faith and trust that He will provide and care for us. As a child trusts that his parent loves him, and looks out for his best interests, so we must trust the Lord. When the world is scary and life is tough, we need to trust in the promises of God to help us through it. We trust that He can see the bigger picture and can guide us on the safe path.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. John 14:31
Let’s face it, no parent is happy with a disobedient child. When my children disobey me I don’t go around rejoicing and smiling. Any commands I give them are meant to teach and train them in some way, or to keep them safe. Furthermore, I do not put unrealistic demands on them. We would never expect a 4-year-old to do the chores of a 12-year-old. I cannot expect them to do something without first teaching them how to do it and knowing they are capable. God is the same way towards us. He delights in our obedience because He knows what is best, and He knows what we need to mature.
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ Jeremiah 7:23
We’ve all heard the phrase “what would Jesus do”. Once we become children of God, He begins His work in us to conform us to the likeness of His son Jesus Christ. Upon the baptism of Jesus, the dove descended upon Him and a voice from Heaven declared “this is my beloved son in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus pleased the Father in everything He did and spoke. If we want to make God smile, we need to be more like Jesus. All of the other ways listed above can be summed up in Him. Jesus is the fullness of God’s love and joy!
the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1John 2:6
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1John 3:2-3
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
My goal for 2022, and indeed for the rest of my days, is to look for ways to make God smile. I do not do this in an effort to gain some sort of blessing, but rather because there is no loftier achievement in life. There is nothing of greater value than God’s smile. Nothing and no one is more worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. There is so much more that I could say, so many ways we can make God smile, but just striving to be like Jesus and looking for ways to serve Him is certainly a good start.
Perhaps if the church truly sought after the Lord’s smile; if His smile became our driving force, we could surely change the world.