Today, Norma Jean and I are returning home to Florida after a very pleasant and pleasurable time spent in the Smoky Mountains.
We have been blessed in the past 53+ years with many enjoyable experiences. Reflecting on some of these reminds me that the word “pleasure” is often regarded in some Christian circles as suspect.
Jesus cautioned that the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life,” may choke out the Word and render us unfruitful in reaping spiritual rewards (Lk. 8:14).
More than once the apostle Paul warned against those who “had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:12). Then, just like today, some folks are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).
Then there is the example of Moses of whom the Hebrew writer commended: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24)
Yes, there are sinful pleasures. But not all pleasure is sinful.
While most may not go so far as to say that all pleasure is sinful, there’s an attitude that views life as something to be endured, not enjoyed. Yet, such a notion is contrary to Bible teaching. The Psalmist penned that the Lord “has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
The wise man reminds us that God created the husband-wife relationship for mutual pleasure. “Rejoice with the wife of your youth,” he exhorts. He speaks of it as a union of satisfaction, delight, and exhilaration (Prov. 5:15-20).
Both Solomon and the Psalmist speak of the enjoyment of a good family. The joy of children. And the pleasure they provide.
For the person who pursues a relationship with God, there is pleasure. Throughout the Psalms, the poet uses the word “delight” to speak of doing His will, following His statutes and meditating on His Word.
The Christian life is described by the apostle Paul as a life of joy. In his short letter to the Philippian church, he uses the word “joy” or “rejoice” 18 times. “The joy of faith,” leads us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” There is spiritual pleasure in living for the Lord.
God created a beautiful world for us to enjoy. To see the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean, the sunset over the Pacific, or the brilliance of a harvest moon reflecting off the Gulf of Mexico, are some of life’s simple pleasures. This week we’ve enjoyed the brilliance of the Fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains. On other occasions, we’ve marveled at the majestic Rocky Mountains or snow-capped peaks of Glacier. The rivers, the lakes, the valleys, and the plains, all of it are made by our Creator for the pleasure of His people.
Like anything in life, there must be a balance between recreation and work. Enjoying pleasurable activities and meeting our daily responsibilities. Of personal enjoyment and serving others. And to realize that pleasure has divine guardrails of goodness, godliness, righteousness, and integrity.
Furthermore, the principle of stewardship as it relates to our time, talent and treasure must be considered and applied in our pleasurable pursuits. Am I using my time wisely? Taking advantage of my opportunities? Employing my gifts to glorify God? And expending my prosperity to bless others? Or is my entire life selfishly focused on my pleasure?
Often we experience life’s pleasures when it’s least expected. “Our brightest blazes of gladness are kindled by unexpected sparks,” observed Samuel Johnson. In fact, if we’re not careful, we may miss some of life’s little pleasures while seeking something greater. As Søren Kierkegaard opined, “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
Pleasure. It’s not wrong per sae. God created us to enjoy the pleasures of this life while seeking His pleasure and preparing for the pleasure of eternal life.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman