Does God Delight in Some of His People More Than Others?
I recently ran across this statement:
“Nothing you did today made God delight in you more.”
Is it true? In light of verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:1,
“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more,”
how would you teach the concept of growth and maturity?
There are two sides to God’s delight in His people. The first is a function of our union with Christ. The second is a function of our behavior. All believers are united with Christ (Eph. 1:6-7; Rom. 6:3-5). As a result, we all participate in the Father’s boundless delight in His Son (cf. 2 Pet. 1:17). My current understanding is that this union-based delight cannot be greater. Perhaps that’s what the author had in mind.
On the other side—the behavioral side—Deuteronomy 28:62-63 says, “…because you did not obey Yahweh your God. It shall come about that as Yahweh delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so Yahweh will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.”
If we refuse to obey God, He may delight over us to destroy us. That’s certainly not the kind of delighting any of us wants! The Old Testament reveals how this played out over Israel’s history. God constantly called His people back to Him for centuries until He finally destroyed most of them and exiled the remnant.
I take from this passage that God delights less in those who disobey and more in those who obey (cf. 1 Cor. 10:5; Heb. 10:38). That raises the question, “In what way(s) does God delight in us ‘more?’” Consider the following verses from Proverbs:
A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh, But a just weight is His delight. (Prov. 11:1)
The perverse in heart are an abomination to Yahweh, But the blameless in their walk are His delight. (Prov. 11:20)
Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh, But those who deal faithfully are His delight. (Prov. 12:22)
These verses seem to suggest that each time we are honest, walk blamelessly, or deal faithfully, God takes delight in what we have done.
If we approach the question of God delighting in us in this manner, we can see that we delight Him more as we grow in knowledge of how to please Him. The more
Christlike thoughts we think, the more Christlike words we speak, and the more Christlike deeds we do, the more we delight God.
Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Each time we pray, God delights in us talking with Him. If we converse with God more, we increase the frequency of that particular delight of God in us.
Regarding the concept of growth and maturity: Spiritual growth is transformation from being less like Jesus to being more like Jesus in thought, word, and deed. When we are saved, we are united with Christ and made new. But our newness is like the new born babe (1 Pet. 2:1- 2). There is a lot of growing to do.
Ephesians 4:13-16 teaches that we are growing up into Christ. Romans 8:28-29 teaches that God has predestined all His sons to be made like Jesus so that He will be the preeminent Son among all His sons. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us we are being changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord as we look on Jesus.
Our obedience to Romans 6:11 or Romans 12:1 or God’s answering the prayer of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 are only steps along the journey of becoming like Jesus, which stretches, as Leslie Wilcox wrote, “beyond the gate” till the moment we see Him and are like Him. The process of growth is God’s chosen method of securing our good, the good of Christ’s Body, the discipleship of the world, and ultimately His own glory.