Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Contrasting Pleasures

It is an interesting thing that God has made pleasure. He has made many things for us to enjoy. He cares tremendously for us and enjoys giving His children good gifts. He is very good at what He does (understatement) and His creation is significantly enjoyable. Although none of these gifts surpass in greatness the ultimate gift that He gives - Himself, it is none the less evidence of His goodness that He would grant such delights.

Oh, but delights can be dangerous... Augustine said something like, "He loves Thee to little who loves anything together with Thee which he loves not for Thy sake." These delights can be avenues of praise towards God for His goodness or they can be sought as ends in themselves. That such pleasures, though gifts from God, may be used and pursued in a manner which turns them into gods is the dangerous part. I think this is one reason why the Scriptures warn us to guard our hearts.

Here are two contrasting examples of the different uses of delight:

The first man wakes with the sunshine upon his face. He travels to the bank to cash the check from his weeks work. He goes to the grocery store to purchase food for dinner and some roses for his wife. He returns home and enjoys the dinner and the smile upon his wife’s face, who is grateful for the roses.

This man is grateful that God made the sun to shine upon him today and realizes that it did not have to be that way. He knows that God has provided him the strength and wisdom to work during the week and thanks God for His provision for his family. He praises God for the lovely food available at the grocery store and the finances to purchase such. He is happy in God's creativity that He made flowers that the man might bring to his wife. He is glad that God has given him his wife, he is delighted that God has arranged that she often smiles. He is glad that God has made her to enjoy flowers. This first man's delight is ultimately in God and everything else he enjoys are but sunbeams of blessing which cause him to look up in gratefulness and praise the God who is providing such blessing.

The second man has the exact same day as the first man. The second man is glad that the sun is shining because he has plans for the day and does not like being caught in the rain. He cashes his check and is happy that it is pay day but always wishes for a little bit more. He gets the food at the grocery store, picking his favorite dinner. He gets the flowers just before leaving the store in the hopes that they may work in his favor. He returns home and enjoys his favorite meal made just the way he likes it. His wife is smiling at the roses and he is thinking his plan has worked.

The second man is at the center of his affections. Life is all about him and his pursuit of his happiness is in whatever he delights in. He too is pursuing happiness, but this happiness is a result of avenues of praise leading directly to self.

The very same act could be done with two completely different motives. The same day in this example could be experienced by two different people in two entirely different ways. One enjoys God from whom all blessings flow and the other enjoys self as his enjoyment sends blessings and praise down the avenue of self.

I believe the old Catechism question and answer is true and tremendously appropriate:
What is the chief end of man?
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Considering the above statement it would seem that we have two options:
We can fulfill our purpose by glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
We can rebel against our God designed purpose by glorifying ourselves and enjoying ourselves for a very limited time.

What or Whom will you most enjoy today? And why?

1 comment:

lisatatj said...

Good post! thanks for the very helpful, practical illustration!