We all have observed small children call out to their mother with words such as these, “Hey Mommy, watch how fast I can run.” After his brief run, the child then wants to know, “Mommy, did you see that? I was running fast, wasn’t I, Mommy?” What is the kid trying to accomplish? He wants to impress his mother and feel good about himself for doing so.
As that child grows into a teenager, he may start paying attention to the young ladies around him. If that is true, he probably hopes they will pay attention to him, too. What better way for that to happen than for him to do something that he thinks will impress them? He may not ask them, “Hey, did you see what I did,” but that is exactly what he is thinking.
I had a good friend who went for an interview for a very appealing job opportunity. After the completion of the interview, someone within the company told him that he had “impressed the socks off of” the manager who had interviewed him. Impressing the hirers – if they really want a particular job, that is what potential employees are trying to do during the interview process, right?
What if we are not thinking about impressing our mother, a young classmate, or an employer? What if we are thinking that we would really like to impress the God of heaven? Well, if we have the goal of pleasing Him, that would be a good thing. We know that when Jesus lived on the earth, He always did those things that pleased His heavenly Father (John 8:29). We would love to be like Jesus and do the same thing.
What do you and I need to do to get God’s attention? Nothing. We already have His attention. He observes and takes note of everything that every human does. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). The Lord God is all-knowing, which means that we do not need to fret over whether or not we have His attention. We do – at all times! Does our attitude and behavior bring honor to His name and make Him happy? That is a different question entirely.
Okay, so what if I want to impress the Lord? What would I need to do? What if I could memorize the names of stars, planets, and galaxies? Would my knowledge impress Him? I think not. First of all, He created all of them, which is something that humans cannot duplicate. Not only that, our knowledge of material things could never compare to His. God’s knowledge of outer space is amazing: “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4). Now that is impressive!
What if we, instead of concentrating on learning about material things, decided to put forth a great effort to memorize Bible verses or even whole books of the Bible? Would that impress God? There is no doubt that putting in a strong effort to learn the Scriptures would have the potential to be a great blessing to our lives, but, no, that would not impress God. You see, He expects you and me to understand His will (Ephesians 5:17). He expects us to learn the truth and keep on growing in knowledge of Bible matters (2 Peter 3:18).
Well, what if I did a number of good deeds that benefit other people? Would that impress God and put me in good standing with Him? No. Again, He expects those who have the capacity to do so to “be rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:17,18), and He does not tell humans “Thank you” for doing so.
Would it impress the Lord if we forsook a lot of things in order to follow Him? No. In fact, if we want to be counted as the Christ’s disciples, He demands that we forsake all for His sake (Luke 14:33).
What if I could make a list of all the different ways in my life that I have obeyed God? Surely that would impress Him. It would not. Submitting to a master’s desire is what servants do (Luke 7:8). So, if we are God’s servants, then submission to Him just comes with the territory. We need to let the following words of Jesus sink down in our hearts: “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). Let us not think of ourselves as impressive servants, but as unprofitable ones.
What if you and I should contribute large amounts of money to the Lord’s work on a regular basis? Some do. Others give less money because they have less to start with, but they make sacrificial offerings with a great spirit that wants to honor the Lord with their possessions (Proverbs 3:9). Still, the answer is “No, we cannot impress God with our giving.”
If we have been trying to impress God, let us give up such a mindset. If we trust in our impressiveness and goodness, they never would be sufficient to put us into or keep us in the right relationship with God. We could never do anything that could compare with God’s greatness, so when He sees our feeble efforts, He never will say, “Wow, that is impressive.” He wants us to be faithful servants (Matthew 25:21), do our best to walk in the light (1 John 1:6,7), and love Him with all of our heart (Mark 12:30). Rather than boast about ourselves or attempt to be impressive, let us emulate the heart of Paul: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” (Galatians 6:14).
— Roger D. Campbell