Pleasures Never Lie

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

Pleasure can be the playground of the devil or the canvas upon which God’s presence is painted more clearly on our heart. Physical pleasure is fleeting yet can become intoxicating for those who seek to perpetuate it. On the other hand, living to please and honor God is exhilarating in a way that lingers and satisfies the soul. On some levels it’s the difference between happiness and joy.

We are subject to the same temptations that Jesus experienced in the wilderness. John summarizes them in 1 John 2:16: “…a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” We can lie to ourselves all day that none of these things appeal to us, but the Word of God doesn’t lie and neither do our pleasures.

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John Piper said: “The soul is measured by its flights, some low and others high, the heart is known by its delights, and pleasures never lie.” What delights your heart?

When my kids were small the pastor with whom we served would loan us his car and camper so we could vacation on our very limited budget. We would camp by the beach in South Carolina and after a full day of playing in the sun, nothing compared to sitting by the fire, making smores and relaxing together. God blesses us with pleasurable experiences, not so we can “live” there, but so we can refresh and rekindle our energy and enthusiasm for more effectively serving Him.

If our mission is to allow the Lord to live His life out through us, our goal should be to seek the Lord’s pleasure, not our own. Does that mean we shouldn’t enjoy times with family and friends?

Of course not. To me quality time with family and friends is God-ordained time. It’s not a question of enjoying God or enjoying something else. To me it’s enjoying the Lord’s presence regardless of what I’m doing. The point as I see it is, does what brings us pleasure enhance our relationship with the Lord or detract from it.

Being with family, whether literal relatives or believing friends, is a way to experience the pleasure of God’s presence in and through the quality time we spend together. Jesus found pleasure with His friends, in ministry to others, as well as when He was alone with His Father.

My conclusion is that it’s not so much WHAT we do as WHY we do it. If we do our ministry-related work begrudgingly, wishing every second we were somewhere else, doing something else, it’s valueless in terms of rendering glory to the Lord. But if I find in my work, whether my literal employment or for the Lord, pleasure as I seek to serve in a manner that allows the Lord to reveal Himself in and through me, it creates an ideal environment for a pleasurable outcome.

So the question becomes: does that which brings us the most pleasure enhance our love and effectiveness for the Lord, or does it push us away from Him? Are you finding pleasure in loving God or does your pleasure blind you to His love?   

Perhaps John Piper said it best: “Do you feel loved by God because you believe he makes much of you, or because you believe he frees you and empowers you to enjoy making much of him?” Remember, pleasures never lie!

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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