Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15
Studies have shown that men tend to put on a few extra pounds once they tie the knot. Sadly, I can relate to this fact. My squishiness and expanding waist line have nothing to do with me relaxing after finally getting the girl and letting myself go. It is due solely to my wife being an amazing cook and baker. She puts Rachel Ray, Gordon Ramsey and Martha Stewart to shame.
It is a common occurrence after a long day of work to be welcomed home with the delicious aroma of some sweet treat. Entering the kitchen, I’ll see my wife’s creations: sugar cookies, gingerbread, apple crisp or some other delicious delight. Reaching out for a taste, I’m greeted with a smack on the hand and my wife saying to wait till after dinner so I don’t spoil my appetite.
The next few hours are torture. Like a magnet, I’m drawn to the kitchen. All I can smell is that baking bliss. Pictures of sugarplums dance through my head. Okay, I might not take it that far, but the reality is I want to give into my desires. After all, one nibble won’t do me much harm. But, one nibble tends to lead to two, which eventually leads to me polishing off a baker’s dozen. With my stomach grumbling, I secretly resent my wife for making me wait. Why is she blocking my appetite? Why is she preventing me from enjoying something she created? How can she be so cruel?
Now stop for a moment and consider how many of us view God. Don’t we react the same way I did when it came to indulging in a sweet treat? As it relates to our desires, don’t we push back on God and His character similarly to the questions I had of my wife? God, why give us this world full of temptation and fill us up with all these desires and wants? Why place us in this world and tell us to not love anything in it?
Take this train of thought a step further. Not only do outsiders view God as the ultimate killjoy, but what do they see when they look at the lives of many believers? A joyless life filled with duty and drudgery. This make them run away from faith because, in their mind, the moment they accept Christ is the instant when all their fun ends.
Even as believers, we have a problem with pleasure. In our eyes, enjoyment is full of danger. Pleasure has become synonymous with sin and, as a result, we don’t know what to do with it. There are things in this world that we love to do, but we feel guilty if we enjoy them too much. If life is going well, we hesitate, and expect for the other shoe to drop to put our enjoyment in perspective. We know deep down inside that the world doesn’t satisfy, but secretly we are jealous of those who get to indulge in all the “fun.”
One of the reasons we wrestle with our view of pleasure is that the Bible presents the world as both a gift and a temptation. At first glance, it appears the Bible is presenting two opposing viewpoints. There are Scriptures that speak of the allure of this world while others celebrate enjoying the gifts God has given us. We shouldn’t be fooled. We open ourselves up for all sorts of pain and disappointment when we love this world. Knowing our tendency to abuse God’s pleasures due to our sinfulness, Scripture warns us more about falling for the world’s pleasure than enjoying the things of it.
However, our response shouldn’t be to run from all pleasure. Our hearts need to be awakened to the goodness of God by submitting our pleasure to Him. Every longing we experience is a longing to be alive. The pleasure we pursue must be surrendered to God and submitted to His authority. This requires personal reflection on our part. We need to test our desires. Desire without knowledge is no good. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good. Pleasure isn’t a right, but rather a gift.
We should enjoy pleasures according to God’s design while acknowledging that they are a gift from Him. Everything finds its meaning and purpose in the context of its relationship to God. He gives us desires so we can trust Him for the fulfillment of those desires. Our response should be to receive them with thankfulness and generosity. Trust is the foundation for a relationship. God invites us to trust him with the desire of our heart.
- As it relates to joy and pleasure, how are God and Christians perceived?
- In our culture, pleasure is synonymous with sin. Do you tend to view pleasure in this light? Why or why not?
God, today may I reflect on my desires. Show me those pure desires, which are gifts from You. When it comes to those twisted desires, the ones I’ve warped in my mind and my heart, give me the courage to stop looking to them for fulfillment. May I trust You with the desires of my heart. Amen.