“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:16-17 (NKJV)
Jesus hadn’t started His ministry yet and it was only after His baptism that any miracles, teachings and ministry are recorded. At the age of 30, Jesus goes to be baptised by John. As soon as He was out of the water, Scripture shows us that the Spirit of God descended like a dove and lighted upon Him (He got empowered by the Holy Spirit baptism – Acts 10:38) and Father God spoke from Heaven expressing His pleasure in His Son.
Our souls (mind, will, intellect, emotions) are wired to thrive on encouragement and affirmation. People who receive genuine encouragement are far more productive than those who don’t. On the flip-side, criticism (not constructive criticism, but rather pointing out faults and focusing on the negative) mostly brings discouragement and can lead to apathy and passivity. Sometimes criticism can fuel an individual to prove the criticism and critics wrong; but that’s not a good motivation. We’ve all experienced positive affirmation as well as negative criticism in some form, and know the fruit of both.
I saw it in my three year-old son recently when we were at the park the other day. There was a slide with ropes that you can use climb up with, and then once you’ve climbed it, you can go up to a bigger slide to come down. He tried climbing the up-slide with ropes, but kept saying, “I can’t do it”. I went to him and encouraged him: “Yes, you can, my boy! You can do anything because Jesus is helping you!”. Then I helped him a little and encouraged him to keep going, saying “You can do it!”. When he got to the top, he exclaimed: “I can do it, Dadda, I can do it!”. Then he went down the big slide, and went up again, and down, and up and down, saying: “Look dada, I can do it!”. Positive affirmation does wonders for our hearts and spurs us on (with the correct motivation) to do great things.
Often, as believers, we try (even our best) to do great things for God because we desire His affirmation. We really want to please Him and hear that we are good enough for Him, and so we serve, and give, and do… all because we want to hear Him say: “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!”
At the time of His baptism and God’s public declaration, Jesus hadn’t started His ministry yet. There is no record of any miracles or healings or teachings up until the time of His baptism. And yet Father God declares over Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. I believe that there is an important lesson for us to learn here. God is pleased with you long before you do anything for Him. He is pleased with you and delights in you because you are His child. I remember the first time I held my boys after they were born. My heart was overflowing with love for and pleasure in them. It was not because they did anything special – they couldn’t talk, didn’t know how to make a cup of coffee, and couldn’t tell me what a great dad I was. But I had abundant pleasure in them because they are my sons.
Many times we try and do great things for God because we’re seeking His approval and delight. The truth is that He already accepts us, loves us and delights in us. Jesus received this affirmation from His Dad and then went on to start His ministry and literally changed the world. Often we go out and attempt to do great things for God; and while we may achieve some success, it isn’t near what it could be because we’re coming from a place where our motivation is seeking His affirmation, not having received His affirmation. Before we do anything great for God, we need to be confident in His love and acceptance of us – then anything we do should flow from there. We don’t serve, give and seek to do great things for God to be accepted by God, loved by God or to please God. We serve, give and seek to do great things with God because we are accepted by Him, loved by Him and pleasing to Him as His children.
“The Lord your God is ·with you [in your midst]; the mighty One will save you. He will ·rejoice over you [take delight in you]. You will rest [or He will quiet you; or He won’t rebuke you] in his love; He will sing and be joyful about you.”
Zephaniah 3:17 Expanded Bible (EXB)
Thought to focus on for the day:
You have a heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and delights in you. He accepts you and is pleased with you simply because you are His child!
Scriptures for meditation:
Psalm 136:3; Psalm 149:4; Jeremiah 31:3; John 3:16; Ephesians 3:17-19; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:35

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