According to the Huffington Post, “Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen received backlash from the Christian community after video footage of an August sermon surfaced showing Osteen encouraging congregants to ‘do good for your own self.’ The pastor, who is married to televangelist Joel Osteen, told the congregation that the key to making God happy is first making oneself happy. Osteen said:
“When we obey God, we’re not doing it for God…we’re doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. Do good ‘cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really. You’re doing it for yourself because that’s what makes God happy.”
In assessing this statement, the first point that should be made is that Mrs. Osteen is not a biblical pastor. She does not meet the qualifications of a biblical pastor established by the Word of God in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. If Mrs. Osteen would take her rightful place within the body of Christ and not try to be more than God has intended for her to be, it is probable there would be no controversy.
The second point to be made is that Mrs. Osteen has said something which is contrary to sound doctrine. It is hard to imagine any of the early church Fathers, and later any of the Reformation leaders, ever saying that we are to be obedient to God for selfish interests. What the Scriptures affirm, what Jesus has taught, is that happiness is the byproduct of gospel obedience. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The heart is to seek God and His righteousness. The heart is not to seek God and His righteousness in order to be happy. Heresy occurs when the divine order is inverted.
We see this truth in salvation. There are those who deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ and yet think a soul can be saved. Many foolish individuals teach people to “Accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and then, in the future, make Him the “Lord” of one’s life.” That is an inversion of the biblical order whereby Jesus is first to be recognized as “Lord” and then received as “Saviour.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Unless a person believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of life, there is no reason to believe He is Savior. First, Jesus is to be bowed before and then He is to be received as Saviour.
In the area of sanctification the same is true. We worship God because He is God and is worthy of our love, praise, and admiration, not because we have a self-interest. Only a narcissistic personality would promote the idea that God is pleased when self is happy. That is just another way of saying, “It’s all about me.” “Worship is all about me.” “God is all about me.”
There is another observation. The Bible is very clear about what pleases God.
Worship in spirit and in truth pleases God. John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Praising God for who He is pleases Him. Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
Gospel obedience pleases God. Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
What does not please God is selfish worship, which is fleshly worship. Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
If Mrs. Osteen really wants to please God then she should repent of her remarks, offer a public apology for public transgressions necessitate a public apology, and then humble herself and stop trying to be a “pastor” when she is not. Biblical words have meaning and should be honored.