Sometimes a specific moment hits you hard. Maybe while playing with your kids and hearing them giggle and squeal with laughter you are immediately struck with a deep gratitude. Your whole life seems to flash before your eyes in an instant and you can’t imagine ending up in a better situation than here in this moment enjoying the people you love. Maybe it happens as you laugh with friends over a home cooked meal; friends who have been with you through your victories and struggles. They’ve seen the best of you, they’ve witnessed the worst of you. Yet, here they are, still with you, and you couldn’t be more grateful.
Christians recognize that our joy is in another world. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t experience and enjoy good things in this world. The presence of good things in this life testifies to the reality of a God who exists and is himself the supreme source of joy. We worship God as we delight in the good blessings he gives and as we allow them to direct our affections to Him.
Perhaps out of a fear of idolatry or worldliness, Christians can feel guilty for enjoying things in this life. We know we are prone to take our eyes off God and redirect them to something less beautiful. We’ve battled the idolatry in our heart; we are aware that we walk dangerously close to the cliff where the threat of falling perpetually looms.
This leads us to battle such danger by suppressing the joys of this world. We assume that if we don’t allow ourselves too much pleasure from temporary sources, then maybe we are curbing the temptation to idolatry and fighting against worldliness.
But, what if the opposite approach is best? Instead of suppressing the joys of this world, we enjoy them to the fullest. We maximize the great experiences God has given us in this life and let that be a channel by which we direct all gratitude and praise to God. The blessings of this life then become a means by which our joy in God increases. It’s certainly possible to let our joy rest in the gift rather than the giver, and we will always have to fight against that. But, rather than minimize good gifts to fight sin, perhaps we enjoy them as much as we can, to the glory of God.
The Bible tells us that all good and perfect gifts come down from our Father (James 1:17). He spared not his Son to give us the greatest gift of all, eternal life with him. Should he never give us another gift the rest of our life, the gift of eternal life would be enough to continually stir our affections to thankfulness and worship.
But, he does bless us in a thousand other ways, some of which may seem insignificant. We enjoy many things on this earth given to us by our Father. A good steak dinner, a down-to-the-wire football game, a good joke among friends, and the list goes on. These blessing are not meant to take our eyes off our Creator, but they serve as signposts to direct our gaze and affections to him every day. Let us not overlook such signs, no matter how temporary they are, for these little enjoyments can direct our heart to the true fountain of joy!
When I travel through the mighty Andes mountains, I’m captivated by their beauty. There’s a feeling of awe in me, a sense of my smallness. Perhaps this feeling is meant to spur my affections to something even greater. Because something as big and beautiful as this mountain range exists, because the sight of it captivates my soul, then there must be something even more powerful and beautiful that made it. And, perhaps that more powerful and beautiful being made it so that as I see it, as I delight in his handiwork, I would praise him.
Enjoy and Worship
Can we commit idolatry with our earthly gifts? Certainly! Most of us have been guilty of this. But, the good pleasures of this world are meant to point us to the One with whom we find lasting pleasure. They give us just a glimpse of something good, and then they vanish. We don’t rest our affections on these things because they are only temporary. These fleeting pleasures aren’t intended to satisfy our longing that only God can fill, but they are intended to point us to him. If we enjoyed them for a brief moment, how much more can we enjoy God forever? If temporary gifts bring about so much enjoyment, how much more will our perfect, holy God provide us with a greater, unceasing joy as we dwell with him, forever.
Thus, we can enjoy these good gifts from God! Savor that juicy steak, laugh at those good jokes, and enjoy each moment the Lord gives. Let God’s gifts stir your heart to gratitude, increase your longing for him, and intensify your desire to be with him. Enjoy his blessings and let them serve as a telescope through which you see the greatness of your Heavenly Father.