Living before God’s face is to be obedient to God’s commandments wherever you are: work, school, home, church, with people or alone. It is to consider what is pleasing to God in thought, word, and action. After hearing about this at a local youth weekend and talking with several friends in my youth group, I get insight into what it means for a young Christian to live before God’s face.
Daniel, a college student, expresses a personal conviction,“ I am here to serve God and He is who I am accountable to,” he tells me. “It is natural to worry about what others think and be influenced by them, especially in school,” he adds. I too know from experience that this can result in acting a certain way around people to get their approval instead of doing what is right. A verse that helps Daniel go against these natural inclinations, and brings peace in his thoughts, is: “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left. Remove your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27.
Daniel can often be found landscaping at the church grounds, or in the kitchen helping to prepare flavorful dishes for church events. A good reputation, or the expectations of others, are often motivators for that kind of volunteer work. “There is no value in that,” Daniel says of living before people. The result is short-lived, empty honor or disappointment from feeling underappreciated. True blessing comes from serving with a desire to please God only, as Daniel has experienced in his life.
Faithfulness in the hidden
It is easier to serve and be good when people are watching. However, God’s Word makes it clear that faithfulness is required when I am alone as well. “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9.
If Jesus walked into the room at any given time, would I be ashamed of what I was doing or watching? Doing something in the hidden that would bring shame if others saw is a clear indication that it isn’t pleasing to God. When we are honest to God about our weaknesses, then He can help us overcome them. He is following along closely every moment of the day. Living before God’s face is to have all ‘rooms’ or areas of your life open to God, His judgment, and His help.
What if the thoughts I was consciously dwelling on were projected on a screen for people to see? Someone does see our thoughts: God, the most important “Someone.” To meet the requirement of faithfulness in the hidden, especially a pure thought life, sincerity and help through prayer are needed.
Living before God’s face is seeking His will in 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 in faithfulness to God. We can be afraid to do what is right because it may not be accepted well by others. My friends share about decisions that were a clear choice to live before God instead of people.
My friend Adrienne remembers a difficult decision to end a friendship. She knew it was the right thing to do and prayed to God for help. “It isn’t easy or comfortable,” 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 strength and peace to follow through, and she felt that He was with her. “I don’t regret that decision,” Adrienne says firmly. She reflects on how it opened up more opportunities for her to serve God, leading to a more fulfilling life and closer relationship with God and those who share her faith.
Isaac is just learning the ropes at a factory job. Recently a worker on the previous shift didn’t do his job right, resulting in Isaac having to pick up the slack. His coworkers were strongly influencing him to “get back at” the worker, but Isaac chose to obey the verse not to repay evil with evil rather than go along with their advice. Isaac tells, with a big smile, of how he walked out of work that day extremely happy, knowing that he chose what was right and he didn’t have to be bound to other people.
Jodie talks about little decisions that she is faced with during the day when no one is watching. The importance of being righteous to the penny when handling money at the local coffee shop where she works as a barista. Choosing to listen to an encouraging message centered on God’s Word over her favorite pop song on her drive to work. She knows that God wants her to use her time well and the message is much more beneficial. “Life becomes simple and you become happy,” she expresses enthusiastically about living before God. “You only have to please One, and don’t have to worry about pleasing everyone around you.”
A rewarding life
It does cost something to live before God’s face. It requires giving up your will, denying your natural desire for honor and approval, and fighting to keep your thoughts pure every day. But, it is completely worth it! Here are more benefits of living before God’s face:
- A good, clean conscious
- A meaningful relationship with God
- Access to help and guidance for a happy life
- Unshakable confidence that comes from knowing you are living in a way that is pleasing to God
- Life is new and interesting —seeking and finding what is right in each situation
- Freedom to think, do, and be good regardless of other people and innate tendencies
- An eternal reward for each faithful decision, big and small
- Blessing for this life and eternity