God’s Delight

Don’t confuse God’s love and grace with His delight.

You can have the former, which is unmerited, but still miss the latter, which comes from doing His will and obeying His commands.

If you doubt this, just do a quick word search on “delight” in any good online Bible translation. You will see verse after verse along these lines:

  • “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” (Psalm 37:23).
  • The Lord delights in those who obey Him (Num. 14:8-9 & 1 Sam. 15:22); who walk in integrity (Prov. 11:20); who act faithfully (Prov. 12:22); who are upright (Prov. 15:8); who resist evil and speak truth (Prov. 15:26); and in bringing justice and righteousness to the earth (Jer. 9:24).

Furthermore, we are told repeatedly to delight in the fear of the Lord, in doing the Lord’s will, in His precepts, in His Word, and in keeping His commands. (Psalm 1:2, 37:23; 40:8; 112:1; 119:16, 23-24, 47 & 77; Isaiah 11:3; Jer. 15:16; Rom. 7:22)

A great tragedy today are Christian who emphasize love and grace, but dismiss – if not outright attack – the obligation to obey His precepts and commands, do His will, submit to scripture, and reverently fear the Lord.

What they don’t understand is that although His grace is freely given, it costs us everything to accept.

Such Christians conform to the spirit of the age by denying this distinction and insisting that Jesus is just a friend with benefits. In wanting only His favors, however, they will never know His delight.

Like them, our fellowships teach that we don’t obey to earn God’s love and grace. That would be legalism.

Unlike them, however, we also teach – mainly by example – that without obedience, we don’t really know His love and grace, and certainly will never know His true delight.

A love relationship with Jesus, rooted in His grace, is vital – but I refuse to stop there. I delight in also doing the things He delights in. And in doing so, I know not simply His love and His grace, but also His delight.

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get much better than finding my delight in the things that delight Him – like loving Him enough to obey His commands, do His will and submit to His Word – and feeling His delight in return.

Balance and discernment are sorely needed once again in the Household of God.

9 responses

    • I think we receive God’s favor in that He extends His love and grace to us. I guess His subsequent delight is heightened favor? I often feel His favor, and it does seem to be an element of His delight – at least at this stage of my walk with Him.


  1. “and feeling His delight in return”
    This is a very tricky thing to flesh out in reality. Perhaps healthy relationships with ‘superiors’ teaches us something of this… where we may feel the constant love from a teacher or parent yet also experience a sense of disapproval or approval depending on our attitude and behavior.
    There are some significant challenges though as this sense of approval or delight can be highly subjective depending on my perception of what obedience looks like.
    Sure if we focus on relatively plain generals commands like helping the poor we may walk with a sense of delight and approval from God when we give time or money to the poor… but there are many examples of behavior that one christian will experience ‘delight’ or ‘approval’ where another would experience nothing or even disapproval. eg. voting for a particular candidate… going on a short term missions trip… attending a prayer meeting… posting a critical blog article etc.
    As I have gone on in my walk, some things I used to think God delighted in, I no longer do… I would actually experience negative emotions and yes even ‘objectively’ when looking at scripture determine that I was not obeying Gods will.
    That said, God works with us wherever we’re at, like the father delights in his child learning to ride a bike for the first time, but as the years pass the expectations increase and stakes are higher when say driving a car.
    Another example of this whole thing playing out is when people underestimate the influence of their background and culture. Like the westerner that claims God is blessing them for their individual obedience and by implication the struggling african is less obedient. If delight is not simply down to material outcomes, but some sort of internal disposition then its quite a personal and subjective thing. A great sense to carry and strive towards but we must walk humbly recognizing our weakness and how Gods love and grace is the beginning and end of the story.


    • Thanks, Eli. I always like your added perspective.

      Like you, I don’t think God’s delight in us depends on us being perfect or even always correct. Like a loving father, He delights in seeing us move forward, even if imperfectly. I feel His delight sometimes even when I blow it, and He says to my spirit, “good try, you did well in the effort” – with a big smile.

      I also agree that our perception of His delight, like all subjective aspects of our relationship with Him, can be colored by other factors. That’s why I have been consistent in my blogs on the unity between the legitimately existential aspects of our walk with the Lord and the external standards of the written Word of God.

      There are those who see obedience in terms of being motivated by judgment and fear and so they resist attempts to emphasize the need for obedience as legalism and bondage.

      But when we see obedience in terms of delight, there is a radical paradigm shift and we become free to obey as an act of love and joy.


  2. Thanx so much for this Jim. I long for friends who delight in the Lord but there is some strange kind of embarrassment among so many, even those that clearly love Him to speak intimately, about Jesus or people in general.
    I trust encouragement like this will help to release Gods people from mediocrity and mushy
    love. I actually think that intimacy will return among us as more spiritual fathers & mothers with Christlike marriages bear their testimony, skills & witness among us.


    • Greg, thanks. I clicked on your blog and read some of your journey. We have lots in common. And I agree totally with your point about God wanting the more mature among us to model Him and healthy relationships with Him. That is so missing today. The thing that gives me great hope is how I have seen God raise up such folks, and couples, in our fellowships. We accomplish more by example than by any other means. And it is taking root among the younger believers.


  3. I have a ? It seems that you are continually drawing a line between yourself and the others in your writings, why is that? in this article I appreciate what you are sharing and totally agree with the scriptures you have presented here. Why is it though you take that great message and then frame it into an us vs. them as if you have walked in “their” fellowships and you know just what “they” think and believe? How is that edifying? Just a few questions that crossed my mind while reading this otherwise great article.


    • I believe there is a great challenge confronting God’s people today. It is a major fork in the road. One path is to continue listening to those who have extreme existential focus and remain limited by the insular, anemic fruit which always results.

      The other path is to embrace the fulness Christ and all that He has provided for us – which means a vibrant relationship along with an embrace of His Word, spiritual maturity, discipline, obedience and spiritual power.

      My motivation has never been to provide devotionals, but to call God’s people to examine our ways so we can then move forward. I think others are called to a more devotional focus, and I honor that. But that’s not what animates me.

      I teach and I mentor and have helped start many fellowships – and I see the power of God routinely transform lives. But that requires more than inspiration. It often requires that we deal with folks own self-imposed limitations.

      Seeing God’s people set free to be all that Christ created them and calls them to be is my passion.

      I may be wrong, and I may not always strike the right balance. But as best I can, I contrast and compare. I question the limitations and those who want to perpetuate those limitation – while pointing to the freedom and good fruit we have seen in our own fellowships as we’ve acknowledged before God those limitations, repented, and as a result find more and more of His fulness.


  4. Pingback: ‘Apples of Gold’ [The Right Word] | Broken Believers ♥

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