Making God Glad
What makes you glad?
The word glad is derived from a old German word glat= shining. To be glad is to have a grin painted on your face that won’t wipe off. You can be glad about something good that happens, or glad about something bad that doesn’t happen. You’re glad for that unexpected check in the mail; you’re glad the medical tests came back negative.
Gladness can be inspired by a beautiful sunrise, or the presence of someone you love. A baby’s smile or just holding hands with you wife can make you glad.
You can be glad after a close call, a promise for the future, or forgiveness for the past. Believe it or not, some people even get glad about their religion. The Psalmist once sang about God:
Psalm 92:4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work…
I suppose gladness is an emotion everybody feels or has felt at time or another. We could run down an endless list of what makes you and I glad. But have you ever wondered: what makes God glad? What brings a smile to His face? What stirs joy in His heart? What makes Him glad?
Even though we don’t ask it much, it is an important question. One of the reasons you and I were created was to give God gladness. Too often, this world fills Him with sadness and grief. What if I told you 3 things you could do to make God glad? Would you be willing to do them? Would you be willing to give the One Who makes you glad some gladness? I want to focus on this question tonight, and look at some ways you and I can make God glad. These specific 3 things all come from Zech. 7. Beginning in vs. 1-7, the Bible says you make God glad
I. WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU DO FOR HIM. (v. 1-7)
Zech. 7 opens up about 2 years after the night the prophet had all of those visions from the previous chapter: Dec. 7, 518 BC. The Jews are about halfway through the rebuilding of the Temple, when they get a visit from a delegation from the town of Bethel, which is about 12 miles north of Jerusalem. Before the exile, Bethel was notorious for being a center for idol worship in the northern kingdom of Israel. But since then, they’ve apparently learned their lesson, and now worship only the Lord. They send a group up to Jerusalem, vs. 2 says, to pray before the Lord= lit, to stroke the face of the Lord., to entreat. They city where once God was dishonored now wants to know how they can please Him, how they can bring a smile to His face, how they can make God glad. They wrap this question within another question: should we continue to mourn in remembrance of the fall of Jerusalem in the 5th month?
For almost 70 years, Israel set aside a day to fast and grieve over the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. They’d dress up in funeral clothes, go without food, and pray prayers of confession and ask God to bring them back to their homeland. Now the Temple is about to be finished, they want to know God haven’t we suffered enough? Haven’t we prayed enough and confessed enough? When will let us come back home? Israel was like a kid sent to the corner who constantly asks can I get out now? Can I get out now? What about now? They weren’t really sorry for what they had done; they just wanted for the punishment to end.
Through Zechariah God answers Were you really doing all this fasting and praying and confessing for Me? All of these religious rituals—were you doing them because you were truly repentant and ready to obey, or because you wanted to use Me to get what you wanted? God asks them to examine their motives. Were you doing all of this for Me—or for yourself?
This is a very important question because it’s very easy to do religious things for yourself, but claim to do them for God. It’s very easy to turn prayer into your “to-do” list for God, instead of seeking His glory through your requests. It’s very easy to read the Bible looking and see yourself instead of seeing God. It’s easy to come to church because of “what you get out of it” than to come to church to worship the Lord. You can do good things—spiritual things—even religious things selfishly, with little or no thought for making God glad. But the truth is, you make God glad only when you do what you do for Him.
Jesus echoes this truth in Matt. 6:1-7 when He talks about giving, fasting and praying. Some give just to get a pat on the back from other people; some fast, just to hear poor sweet baby! How holy he is!; some pray to get the audience’s attention, instead of God’s attention. These people do what they do for themselves, not God. The selfish motives keep these acts from ever touching the heart of God.
But what about our motives? Who knows the motives behind all the choices you make? One motive should have priority over all others: not be your own happiness, but God’s gladness.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Why do you do what you do? What really, ultimately motivates us? Why do you work? Why do you pray? Why do you eat, or drink? Is it your own pleasure, your comfort, the satisfaction of your selfish desires? Or do you really desire, above all other things, to please the Lord? This is one way you make God glad: by doing everything you do for Him.
One lady asks another, “Do you think your husband is hard to please?” to which the other replies, “I really don’t know—I’ve never tried.”
Are you and I trying to please our Lord? Are our lives making God glad? Zech. Goes on to explain another way you can make God glad:
II. WHEN YOU DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT’S RIGHT. (v. 8-10)
I once heard a true story about a waitress in a restaurant who was carrying an open gallon container of salad dressing to the salad bar when she tripped, and launched the dressing all over a man wearing a brand new suit. He went ballistic, cussing her out, calling her every name in the book. His wife joined him, fussing and cussing at this poor waitress, demanding to see the manager, demanding from the manager that he write out a check then and there to pay for the suit. One more thing: this happened on a Sunday afternoon.
Where do you suppose a man in a new suit in a restaurant on Sunday afternoon had been earlier that day? Perhaps listening to a sermon on loving your neighbor as yourself?
One of the most common mistakes we make about religion is this idea your relationship with God really doesn’t have much to do with your relationship to other people. People try to be holy and hateful at the same time, but it doesn’t work. The apostle John wrote:
1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
The OT prophets were constantly connecting how a person stood with God to how they treated others. Zechariah makes this connection by listing several ways you make God glad by how you treat others:
Execute true justice (v. 9) True justice not only means people get what they deserve; it also involves being merciful and compassionate to those who repent of their wrongdoing. Do what’s right, and hold others accountable for doing what’s right, but at the same time be compassionate with those who do wrong. Be just, just as God is just, and be merciful and compassionate, even as God is merciful and compassionate.
Do not oppress the weak and helpless. Either by action or by neglect. The widow, the fatherless, the stranger or the poor person were all people in need of help, not exploitation. But it is just as displeasing to God to ignore the weak and helpless, as Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus illustrates.
Don’t scheme against one another. Don’t hold on to resentment or hatred. Don’t be bitter towards others, but let go of your bad feelings and hatred and forgive.
Each of these areas deal with how we treat other people, but Zechariah reminds us that each of these areas affect whether or not we make God glad or sad or mad by our actions. In large part t was because Israel refused to treat other people right that they suffered under God’s wrath. God takes how you treat other people personally. You make God glad when you treat other people right.
In the parable Jesus once told recorded in Matt. 25:31-46, the difference between those who go to heaven and those who go to hell hinges on how they treat what I call “forgotten people”- the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner. In essence, Jesus says how you treated them was how you treated Me.
The Lord was not teaching that you earn anybody earns their way to heaven by feeding the hungry or visiting the sick. What He is saying is that when your relationship with Him is truly right, then you treat other people right. He takes how you treat others personally; when you treat them right- with justice, compassion, and love- you make Him glad.
How can you make God glad? Treat others right. Treat them with the same kindness, patience, compassion and love that you want others to treat you with. That makes God glad. And then there’s one more way you make God glad:
III. WHEN YOU DO WHAT HE TELLS YOU TO DO. (v. 11-14)
Someone once said, Some of the deepest hurts in the heart of God are from His disobedient children.
God does not tolerate disobedience in His people. He always reacts to our disobedience in sadness, anger, or judgment. But on the other hand, He always reacts to our obedience with gladness. Zechariah stresses this point in vs. 11-14 by reminding Israel of the consequences of disobeying God.
God spoke to them, but they refused to heed…shrugged their shoulders= turned their back to Him, stopped their ears…made their hearts like flint (hardened their heart)…refused to hear the Law or the words of the prophets. They ignored His Word, His warnings, His threats, and lived like they wanted to, which did not make God glad, but mad. When they called out to Him He refused to listen; He scattered them like dust in a cyclone, He allowed Israel’s enemies to destroy the land and send them into exile.
Did God enjoy this judgment? No way. God would much rather have been glad for the obedience of His people.
Deuteronomy 5:29 Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!
Psalm 81:13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!
Isaiah 48:18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
One of the greatest joys you can have as a parent is to discover your child obeys you because they truly believe what you tell them is true and best.
One of the greatest disappointments you can have as a parent is to discover your child disobeys you with no thought about the consequences of his/her actions.
Those same emotions fill the heart of God when His children obey or disobey Him. When we disobey, He is grieved, but also angry.
Genesis 6:5-6 5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Some of the deepest hurts in the heart of God are from His disobedient children. Some of the greatest joys in the heart of God are from His obedient children.
Obeying God brings gladness to His heart. The words of 3 John 4 ring true for the Lord, as well as the apostle:
3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Are you filling God’s heart with gladness by walking in obedience to Him?
A preacher tells us how one of his children said to the youngest, “You must be good or Father won’t love you.” He called the child to him and said, gravely and tenderly, “That is not true, my boy.” “But you won’t love us if we are not good, will you?” asked the child. “Yes, I shall love you always; when you are good, I shall love you with a love that makes me glad; when you are not good, I shall love you with a love that hurts me.”
God’s love for you never changes. He always loves you no matter what you do or don’t do. But your attitudes, your words, and your actions determine whether His love is mad, sad, or glad. Are you making your heavenly Father glad tonight?