Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 9 sheds new light on the matter of pleasing God. Pleasing God does not result from merely keeping the rules. Pleasing God comes from personal sacrifice, for the glory of God, the good of others, and the advance of the gospel. Many Christians talk about “knowing the will of God.” What they really want is a rule book, much like that of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They want to know what is right and what is wrong. They want to avoid only what is sin and to enjoy everything else. They want the Christian life all spelled out in terms of do’s and don’ts. They want to know all the don’ts, so that they can indulge themselves in the do’s.
Paul informs us that God is pleased when we “just say no” to the things which could be a “yes.” God is pleased when we choose to refrain from a right because of our love for God and for our brother, and because we do not want to hinder the advance of the gospel.
This is why I believe God does not lay down more do’s and don’ts. He wants to give us as many liberties as possible, and then to see what we are willing to sacrifice for the gospel and for His glory. Pleasing God goes far beyond keeping the rules. Pleasing God begins when we have kept the rules, and when we start to sacrifice our rights for the sake of the gospel. May God cause us to reflect on this text, and on its many implications for our lives, for our good and His glory.