When it comes to intimate relationships, like marital or even family relationships, two necessary factors are incredibly important for strength and stability. The first has to do with having love for the other, about which volumes are written and conversations are filled.
But, the second has to do with liking the other. It was recently that I pointed out I not only love my wife, Terry, but I like her, too. I like what she does, I like what she says, and I like how she relates to me. My liking her prompts passion in me to spend time with her. She is the one whom I both love and like.
The Scripture raises this “liking” concern, too, as it involves our personal relationship with God. The Psalmist points out, “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.”
One aspect of taking pleasure in someone is that you have a liking for them. Therefore, we find here the significant suggestion that there is a bond of relationship with God going beyond the scope of love. It is also a bond of relationship with God based on liking. Consider it: if the Lord “takes pleasure” in us, it suggests strongly the liking factor. The loving us accompanied with the liking us serves to enrich fellowship between God and the individual.
By way of contrast, consider how we often deal with others. We are often prone to say about certain ones, “I love them, but I do not like them!” To what position is that person relegated from your perspective? You can love someone but not like to hang out with them, or do things with thing. After all, you never hear someone say the converse, “I like them, but I do not love them.”
In the broadest of terms, it usually means that you keep the person you-love-but-do-not-like at a relational distance. Your willingness to interact becomes based only on what is necessary. Thus, shallowness of relationship becomes the characteristic quality.
Do you want God to have that attitude toward you? Is it anywhere beneficial for us to have a distant relationship with God?
Personally, I am grateful that God loves me. But, since deep fellowship with God is the sweetest of all human experiences, I also want God to like me. Thus, what is it that prompts God to like me? Really – it is not a hard proposition to consider.
According to the clues given in this verse, we are careful to note that it is not a matter of God liking us on the basis of what we do for Him. Rather, His liking us reaches out to the extent to which we depend on Him. It is right there in the verse.
First, God likes those who revere Him. He “takes pleasure in them that fear Him.”
When one fears and reveres God, one possesses and expresses reverential respect for who God is. The mindset is that there is no one who can be more to us or do more for us than God. Furthermore, one who fears and reveres God maintains a healthy respect for the power and will of God. If you want God to like you, deliberately prove an attitude of reverential dependency toward Him. It will enrich your experience with Him.
Second, God likes those who rely on Him. He “takes pleasure in those that hope in his mercy.”
In the Scripture, “hope” is not wishful thinking. Rather, it is a grace from God based on His sure promises. Thus, the hope God gives is that, because of His mercy, He will not condemn us on the basis of the condemnation we deserve. As it turns out, God likes – takes pleasure in – those who recognize His mercy directed toward us, who depend upon His mercy, and who live assured of His mercy. Evidently that pleases God. Evidently, God likes us for being that way toward Him.
Hey, guys! Give your wife $100 this week just because you like her, and see if she will not like you back. It has worked for me at times – particularly when I had made her mad at me.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.
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