You heard, didn’t you, the way I behaved when I was still within “Judaism.” I persecuted the church of God violently, and ravaged it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age and people; I was extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, was pleased to unveil his son in me, so that I might announce the good news about him among the nations – immediately I did not confer with flesh and blood. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. No, I went away to Arabia, and afterward returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1.13-17 KNT)
Did you catch it? Paul says “God … was pleased to unveil his son in me …”
It’s a wonderful word in the original language: eudokeo. Eudokeo means not merely to thoroughly approve of something, but to take great delight in it. Think of the sparkle in the eye and wide-grin on a grandparent’s face as they watch their little grandchildren play and you’ve got the message. It pops up again and again throughout the New Testament to describe God’s delight in certain happenings.
As in the way he responds to Jesus’ baptism: “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.” (Matthew 3.17)
Like when Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. “A voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son whom I dearly love. I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!'” (Matthew 17.5)
And in how Jesus encourages his disciples. “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12.32)
Now it’s one thing for God to say something about his pleasure in his Son, or his Son to say something about his Father’s pleasure in the Son’s followers, but it’s something else for one the followers to declare that the Father took delight in doing something for them. It’s the difference between (a) those with perfect knowledge informing the ignorant and (b) the ignorant drinking in, completely accepting, and then affirming before others this truth, all the while the latter knowing full well what they were like and about before.
All of which is to say that Paul surely took great delight in accepting the Father’s delight in him. That trust in God’s happiness with him fueled and fired his humble, complete devotion to God and his service in his Son’s name. And I believe that what was true of Paul in this regard is true of Christ’s followers today.
So the question today is this: “Can you say this and does your life reflect it? Try it: “God was pleased to give me his Son and Spirit.”
Holy Father, I struggle at times with accepting your loving me so; I try to wriggle my way out of your embrace. I think at times you do well to tolerate me, much less be pleased in me. May my faith grow in you to accept what you say. May that acceptance cause to bloom within me deep humility, genuine assurance, exuberant praise, and ceaseless service to your glory. Amen.