The Way to Pleasure

Glenn W. Harrell 1-18

“The way to please you is to feel sorrow deep in our hearts.

 This is the kind of sacrifice you won’t refuse.”  Psalm 51:17                        

Why is it that mankind offers money, stuff and idols back to God as if that is what brings Him pleasure? Because these material-nothings have possessed the soul and the soul thinks that everyone, including God, must value them as such. God, it is stated, is pleased when we “feel sorrow deep in our hearts.” Such sorrow often brings Godly perspective on misfortune, poor health, and unexplained occurrences within the providence of God.

 

Why is it that pleasure has become the prized commodity that defeats the very instinct it hopes to gratify?

It is because I place my pleasure before pleasing him–his pleasure. This can only happen because I choose to do so.

And when I do, my sorrowful heart misunderstands God. Now, I may know the emptiness of vain pursuit and the absolute incompetence of “stuff” to bring pleasure to God, much-less me.

God has designed a way for strangers to become friends. Health and prosperity were never meant to do this task.

He wants me to comply in worship and he wants me to feel something about its truth and purity. He has cleared a path for those who stumble over the clutter to have smooth passage. He offers himself as the only means by which the rebellious independent can find release from bondage to toys and idols. This narrow way often includes sorrow, emptiness and even depression, as prerequisite. Have you noticed just how much clearer we can see when we are in pain and when we are poor?

 

Might we live our lives from one purchase to the other, hoping for perpetual pleasure? This is natural for children, and yet how hurt the parent is when the child is ungrateful and insists on more, bigger and better. The loving parent wants the child’s love and gratitude, not demands for more. This is natural for those who live as outsiders–those who are professing non-Christians. The “God shaped void” in their life demands to be filled with something. Yet, materialism is very unattractive on all of us who know Him by faith and who worship Jesus as Lord. Jesus reminded us all,

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4

 

Our material goodies are not meant to go away, necessarily. However, they must become by-products of our faith and worship, and not our principal ambition. At some point in life we are smitten with these words from Jesus:

“Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

 

Let the sorrow within your heart cause your hands to open and release the clutch on all that hopes to supplant your true offering. Sorrow reminds us that we live by faith and not by sight. Our rewards are not material. His full acceptance and pleasure is our reward, no matter our feelings or status in life. His pleasure realized will assure that we know and effect the balance represented in this verse,

“But more than anything else, put God’s work (pleasure) first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.”  Matthew 6:33

 

Now then, we discover our own pleasure. We discover a pleasure that is non-hedonistic. We discover that worshipping God in spirit and in truth brings rewards of life-giving pleasure. These pleasures come as fruits. These come as benevolent, symptomatic gifts from a God who will not spoils us to ourselves as if we can live for pleasure first—pleasure alone. The Psalmist knew quite this well.

Trust the Lord and live right! The land will be yours and you will be safe.
Do what the Lord wants, and he will give you
 your heart’s desire (pleasure).”      Palm 37:3-4

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