If we want to live in a way that is pleasing to God alone, we have to be obedient to God’s commandments wherever we are: work, school, home, church, together with people or when we are alone. This is what it means to live before God’s face. It is to always do what is pleasing to God in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
After hearing about this at a local youth weekend, I spoke about it with a few friends in my youth group and ended up with a much better understanding of what it means for a young Christian to live before God’s face.
Serving and pleasing God
One of my friends, Daniel, shared something that he personally believed. "I am here to serve God and I have to answer to Him alone,” he tells me. "It’s natural to worry about what others think and be influenced by them, especially in school," he says.
I too know from my own life that worrying what others think can make you behave in a certain way around people so that they like you, instead of doing what is right.
Daniel says there is a verse that has helped him go against this and given him peace in his thoughts: “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT).
He often does volunteer work at the church grounds. He explains that a good reputation, or what others expect from you, can easily be what drives you to do this kind of volunteer work. “There is no value in that,” Daniel says about this type of “living before people”. The satisfaction you get out of that only lasts a short time and it’s empty, or it’s a great disappointment when you feel that what you’ve done is not really appreciated by others. True blessing comes when you serve with a longing to please God only, as Daniel has experienced in his life.
Faithfulness where no one sees you
It’s easier to serve and be good when people are watching. But God’s Word makes it clear that I need to be faithful even when I’m alone. “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9 (NRS).
If Jesus walked into the room at any time, would I be ashamed of what I was doing or watching? If you do something that would make you feel ashamed if others saw it, then it is clear that it isn’t pleasing to God. When we are honest before God about our weaknesses, then He can help us overcome them. He is seeing us every moment of the day. “Living before God’s face” is to have all areas of our life open to God, then He can help us.
What if all my thoughts were put on a screen for everyone to see? But someone does see our thoughts: God sees all our thoughts. If we want to be faithful even when no one sees us and have a pure thought life, we need to be sincere and pray to God to help us.
Pleasing God and living before His face means seeking His will in all situations and decisions, big and small. Sometimes others can try to influence our decisions. Other people, even close friends and family, don’t always understand or agree with the decisions we make when we want to be faithful to God. We can be afraid to do what is right, because others may not like it.
My friend Ruth remembers a difficult decision she had to make. She had to end a certain friendship. She knew it was the right thing to do and had prayed to God for help. "It isn’t always easy or nice," she says about making the decisions that God puts on your heart, "it’s a step of faith." She experienced that God gave her the power and peace to do it, and she felt that He was with her. "I am not sorry that I took that decision,” Ruth says. She says it gave her more opportunities to serve God, leading to a more fulfilling life and closer relationship with God and those who share her faith.
Isaac is just starting a new job. Recently a worker on the previous shift hadn’t done his job properly, which meant that Isaac had to fix the mistakes. His co-workers told him to "do something nasty in return to the worker”, but Isaac rather chose to obey the verse that says that we should not repay evil with evil. Isaac tells me, with a big smile, how he walked out of work very happy that day, knowing that he had chosen what was right.
Mary explains how she has many little decisions to make during the day when no one is watching – and about how important it is to be honest when handling money at the shop where she works. Another example she uses from her own life is choosing to listen to a message about God’s Word instead of to a pop song on her way to work. She knows that God wants her to use her time well and the message is much more helpful than a pop song. Living before God makes "life simple and you become happy", she says. "You only have to please One, and don’t have to worry about pleasing everyone around you."
A good life
It does cost something to live before God’s face. You have to give up your own will, say No to your natural desire that people should like what you are doing, and fight to keep your thoughts pure every day. But it’s completely worth it! Here are some other rewards you will get if you live before God’s face:
You get a good, clean conscience,
You get a good relationship with God,
You get help for a happy life,
You get an unshakable trust in God, because you know that you are living in a way that is pleasing to Him,
Life is new and interesting – seeking and finding what is right in each situation,
You can think, do, and be good no matter what other people think,
You get an eternal reward for each faithful decision, big and small,
You get a blessing for this life and eternity.