GK Chesterton said, “Whenever you remove a fence, pause long enough to ask yourself why it was put there to begin with.”
Does God want us to be happy and enjoy life? Does He want us to experience pleasure? I believe the answer to that is a resounding YES–in the fullest sense! After all, God created pleasure.
But there is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy pleasure.
Ravi Zacharias shares in a message called “The Problem of Pleasure” three profound principles when dealing with this issue. I want to share them with you in part 2 of this mini series and encourage you to listen to his message if you are able. It is attached below.
- Anything that refreshes you, without distracting from, diminishing, or destroying your final goal is a legitimate pleasure in your life.
- Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another, is an illicit pleasure.
- Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance, will distort reality or destroy appetite.
In the book of Daniel, Jerusalem was seized by Babylon and the Israelites were taken captive. But King Nebuchadnezzar did something very unusual. He took some of the finest Israelites, young men who were distinguished, intelligent, well built, and had them placed in the king’s service. One of those young men was Daniel. He would be educated by the Babylonians. He would get royal treatment. He would hang out with the “Who’s Who” of Babylon. This included getting to partake in the best food and wine from the king’s table. For these captive young Jews, this wasn’t a life of “roughing it!” On the contrary. This was a life of luxury! If that had been me, I would have been like, “Yes sir! Sign me up!” But not Daniel. Check out what Daniel 1:8 says that Daniel did.
“Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief eunuch not to defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
See Daniel knew the implications of buying into the comforts of Babylon. He knew he had to discipline himself or he would be swayed and fall into the customs and ways of the Babylonians and end up defiling himself.
Daniel drew the line of resistance by training his appetite—his hungers. These hungers are pleasures, the things that we taste and enjoy.
Although these pleasures might not be bad in and of themselves, they must be kept in balance. We must learn how to draw the line of resistance. We must set boundaries.
Daniel drew the line of resistance so his dependence would be on God and not on the comforts of Babylon. We get comfortable with the comforts of the palace and get spoiled by them. Then before we know it we are RULED by our hungers.
Sometimes we get mad at God for setting boundaries in our lives. We think WE know what’s best for us. We look at the Bible as a set of “do’s” and “don’ts.” A list of rules and regulations. We think of God as the ultimate drill sergeant barking orders at us.
Have you ever wondered why He gave us boundaries and rules?
Take the 10 commandments for instance.
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall make no idols.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Keep the Sabbath day holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
What do all ten of those commandments pertain too?
The sacredness of our relationship with God and others.
The first 4 pertain to the sacredness of our relationship with God. The last 6 pertain to the sacredness of our relationships with each other.
Our relationship with God is to be honored as sacred. We are to worship ONLY Him, not make any idols. When we speak of Him, we are to hold His name in the utmost honor. We are to set aside a special Sabbath day, to rest, honor, and worship Him.
Our relationships with others are to be honored as sacred. Families are sacred. Lives are sacred. Marriage is sacred. We should show respect to others by speaking truthfully about them. We are to honor one another by not taking or coveting their possessions.
We are so quick to judge God’s motives, yet don’t we all long for sacred relationships?
Some of you reading this blog are married. When you were married, did you say vows like this to your spouse?
“Will you, ________, have ________ to be your husband? Will you love him, comfort and keep him, and forsaking all others remain true to him as long as you both shall live?”
Didn’t you want your husband to promise to be true to you and forsake all others as long as you both shall live?
Can you see it, engraved deep in the meaning of 10 commandments? The Lord passionately desires to have an intimate and sacred relationship with each of us. He desires that we forsake all other gods and remain true only to Him as long as we live. Our relationship with God should be a sacred relationship, just like the relationship between a husband and wife is meant to be.
God did not give us boundaries to prevent us from pleasure. He gave us boundaries to protect us and give us the ultimate, most beautiful, purest form of pleasure.
And where do we find this ultimate form of pleasure?
“You have made known to me the path of life. You fill me with joy in your presence and eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
Ravi Zacharias says, “The closer you draw to good pleasure, the closer you will draw to the heart of God. The closer you draw to false pleasure, the farther away you will move from the heart of God.”
So don’t be so quick to remove that fence. There might be a really good reason for it.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 3 of this series. 🙂