July 28, 2002: How to Impress God

Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today to come to You in humbleness and self-sacrifice. Teach us to come to You in the same way that You came to us when You gave Your life for ours on the cross. Yes, teach us to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Amen
TEXT: I Kings 3: 5-12

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
You’ve all heard the phrase: “Dress for success.” It’s a basic truism of our culture, isn’t it? If you go to a job interview with great qualifications, but wear sloppy clothes, blow bubbles with your gum, and are dirty or unwashed, you won’t get the job. But if you wear clean, sharp clothing, sit up straight, and act professional your chances will increase. First impressions are important. And since humans cannot read hearts, we’re impressed by the outward appearance.

But, is that the case with God? No. As the Bible says: “Man looks at the outward, but God looks at the heart.” Thus, our theme for today: HOW TO IMPRESS GOD seems a misnomer, doesn’t it? Since we’re all sinners who have nothing but the moral filth, decay, and whinnyness of our wayward hearts to offer God, and since He only looks at our hearts, it is impossible to impress God—so why even talk about it? Ah, but you and I have Christ in our hearts, don’t we? Like King Solomon, and his father David, we possess Christ’s perfect righteousness won on the cross which covers our sins and makes us clean, pure, and holy from the inside out. So, our impressing of God is Christ-centered, Christ-caused, and Christ-motivated. With that truth in mind, today let’s see how Solomon impressed God and thereby learn how we can too.


We’re all familiar with political intrigue and the upheaval that accompanies a change in political leadership when a dictator rules. When David passed his kingship to Solomon such plotting and rebellion swirled in Israel. And Solomon was forced to react. He had his half-brother, Adonijah, killed for seeking to overthrow him. He had the army purged of its leading commanders who also were killed for their disloyalty. He even had some enemies of his father, David, killed for their undermining of his rule. After this blood-letting the young and inexperienced Solomon needed to unify the kingdom and bring peace and stability. Thankfully he sought God’s help in this. And that’s our first lesson. Always ask God to help in any and every situation. Or, take it to the Lord in prayer. After all, God does say: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.”

“The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on the altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”


Note well in this prayer Solomon’s humility. At every turn He gives God all the glory. At every turn he confesses his own inability to go it alone. In short, this is a tremendous confession of sin, isn’t it? And that’s the second lesson we need to learn. When you talk to God you dare not whitewash your sin. You cannot con God. You cannot gloss over your mistakes or put a rosy face on your stupidity. God looks at the heart. So always be honest with Him, and in the process learn to be honest with yourself.

From his prayer it is obvious that Solomon is living under the first table of the law and keeping it through faith in Christ. That is, He is placing God first and loving Him above all else. Now from that vantage point Solomon seeks to also keep the second table of the law—“love your neighbor as yourself.” For in asking for wisdom and a discerning heart, Solomon his putting God’s people and their welfare above his own selfishness. Although Solomon is to be the recipient of this blessing, it is really about God’s people and not about him.

And that’s the third lesson we need to take home today. When God gives us faith in Christ and implants Jesus’ love within us, he expects us to use that gift. He expects us to be self-sacrificing with our blessings by sharing them with others—to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. That’s what Jesus did when He came here to live and die for us. He used His holiness to uplift all those He met. When Jesus says: “Go and do likewise” He meant it! And when we do, God is impressed with us!
In Solomon’s case we now see exactly that. “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth or yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”


My friends, the only way we can ever impress God is to ask for blessings in accordance with His will, blessings that benefit others first. Life isn’t about us. It isn’t about how much we have or how many toys we possess. Life is about honoring God and sharing His love and kindness with those we meet. In short, life is about Godly self-sacrifice. It was good enough for Jesus. And God was so impressed by His Son that He raised Him from the dead. It was good enough for Solomon, and God was so impressed by this prayer that He also showered earthly blessings upon this King, too. Since you have Jesus in your heart, exercise your faith and impress God by asking Him to guide you and help you as you go about loving both Him and your neighbor. For the one who so humbles himself, will be exalted! You have God’s Word on that. Amen