God wants you to enjoy life
Remember where God placed Adam and Eve? God didn’t put them in a barren desert and tell them to endure it; he put them in a garden of delights and told them to enjoy it. It was a thousand trees of ‘Yes!’ and only one tree of ‘No.’ Yet, what happened? Satan somehow convinced them that God wasn’t enough and that God hadn’t given them enough. One of the lessons this story teaches is that God was the one who invented pleasure; Satan invented the abuse of it. In other words, God gave us sex; Satan gave us adultery. God gave us wine; Satan gave us drunkenness. God gave us food; Satan gave us gluttony. God gave us sleep; Satan gave us laziness, and so on. The heart of God has always been for his people to take pleasure in the good gifts of life in their proper measure.
He provides good things
Remember the Promised Land in the Old Testament? It wasn’t flowing with carrot juice and asparagus; it was flowing with milk and honey. Remember when the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana? Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, good! You were all having too much fun anyway.” No! Jesus made more wine, an ancient symbol for joy, to show once and for all that what he offers the world is not a renouncement of pleasure but a robust joyful relationship with the God who invented pleasure. Remember the father’s house when the prodigal son came home? It was full of music and dancing (see Luke 15:25). Jesus taught that God causes the sun to shine on the evil and the good (see Matthew 5:45). In other words, the sun doesn’t just shine on believer’s farms, and food isn’t just placed on believer’s tables. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). The Apostle Paul wrote that, “God richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Far from being a hindrance to joy, the God of the Bible is the source of it.
Life is a gift from God
Think of your approach to the simple pleasures of life like two children on Christmas morning. The first child thinks he deserves everything and sees only one present for himself under the tree. However, the second child recognizes that he deserves nothing, yet sees a present for himself under the tree. Each child had the same amount of presents, but only one of them is going to enjoy the morning. Like that second child, once you see that every good thing in life is an undeserved gift from God, then every day turns into a joyous occasion bringing forth gratitude and praise to God. As C.S. Lewis put it, “Gratitude exclaims, very properly, ‘How good of God to give me this.’ Adoration says, ‘What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations [sparkles of pleasure] are like this!’ One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.” Lewis recognized that God is the source of every good thing and wants his children to enjoy life.
Go ahead and enjoy your life
I once came across a label on a bag of snacks that read, “Open and enjoy!” It wasn’t enough to have the food or even open the bag, I needed to dig in and enjoy it. In the same way, it’s not enough to know that life is a gift that God wants you to enjoy; you’ve got to actually go and enjoy it. Solomon wrote, “Go and eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart for God has already approved what you do” (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Now, this isn’t Epicureanism, which says, “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” There’s no God or after-life, so just get in as much pleasure as you can. It’s also not Existentialism, which teaches that there’s no God, so you give your existence meaning and call the shots.
Solomon brought God right into it, so that you might know that the enjoyment of life is in keeping with the moral standards of God. In other words, you don’t have to wonder if God is upset that you’re having a good time. God takes pleasure in seeing his children enjoy his gifts in their proper measure. God loves to hear his children laugh and see them smile. God approves! Joy doesn’t have to wait until morning. Joy doesn’t have to wait until heaven. Joy can be had right here, right now by following Lewis’ advice and running our minds up the sunbeam to the sun, seeing God for who he truly is: the source of every good gift in life. So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait for a day that may never come. Go ahead and enjoy your life! If not today, then when? If not you, then who? Make that someday, this day, and make that someone, you!
Jeremy McKeen is the lead pastor of Truth Point Church. Jeremy received his B.A. in communications and philosophy from Florida Southern College and his MDiv from Knox Theological Seminary.