The great English Puritan, Richard Baxter, exhorted: “See therefore that you live for God’s approval as that which you chiefly seek, and as that will suffice you.”
Baxter suggested that we may discover for ourselves whether or not we are living chiefly for God’s pleasure, or for something else, by considering these six signs:
1. You will be careful to understand the Scripture, to know what pleases and displeases God
2. You will be more careful in the doing of every task, to fit it to the pleasure of God rather than men.
3. You will look to your hearts, and not only to your actions; to your goals, and thoughts, and the inward manner and degree.
4. You will look to secret duties as well as public, and to that which men do not see as well as those which they see.
5. You will revere your conscience, paying close attention to it, and not slighting it; when it tells you of God’s displeasure, it will disquiet you; when it tells you of His approval, it will comfort you.
6. Your pleasing men will be charitable for their good, and pious (holy) in order to please God, not proud and ambitious for your honor among men, nor impious against the pleasing of God.
7. Whether men are pleased or displeased, how they judge you or what they call you, will seem a small matter to you, as their own interests, in comparison to God’s judgment. You don’t live for them. You can bear their displeasure, and comments, if God is pleased.
To learn more about Richard Baxter, check out this short overview from the archives of Christian History magazine: Richard Baxter.