Do you feel guilty for enjoying the good things of this life? Is your delight dampened by feelings of shame when you find yourself really having fun doing something “unspiritual?” Some suppose that it is unspiritual to really enjoy sports, a picnic with friends, hobbies, or anything that is not related to church or ministry. But is this so?
To restrict our joy in God to church activities is to have a wrong view of God and of life. While it is wrong to rejoice in things apart from God, it is right to rejoice in regular things for God’s sake. The Bible proves this in several ways.
1) God is good. Since God is all knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present, aren’t you glad that he is good? Suppose he was prone to bad attitudes! He could make our lives miserable just to spite us anytime he wanted to. Instead, the Scriptures reveal that God is good.
Psalm 100:5 says, “The LORD is good….” Psalm 25:8 agrees. “Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.” David asks of God, “Make glad the soul of Thy servant, For to Thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” The basis of his request is in the next verse. “For Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive, And abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon Thee” (Psalm 86:4-5).
2) God gives good things to his creatures. The fact of God’s goodness is not just theoretical; it is evidenced by the good things that he gives. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”
Ever since the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, this world has been under a curse. If this is a fallen wicked world, how can there still be good things to enjoy? The only explanation is the kindness of the Lord!
Have you ever considered that God could have created a gray world? I don’t just mean an occasional rainy day either. Imagine the bright gray sunshine high in the light gray sky shining over the dark gray countryside. Yuck! Who made the full array of colors that you and I enjoy? God did. Why did He make them? Because he is good and he gives us good things.
God’s goodness is manifested toward each of our senses. Instead of obtaining all of our nutrition through a bland toothpaste kind of substance (a gray one no doubt!), the good God gives us a wide variety of foods to enjoy.
The bird’s chirp, the violin’s melody, the wind’s whisper, and the baby’s laugh are all evidences of God’s goodness to your ears.
Even the most hardened criminal gets to enjoy God’s goodness while on this earth. Romans 2:4 gives us part of the reason why. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
3) God is glorified when we enjoy the good things that he gives us. When you give a gift to someone, your joy in doing so is determined in part by the person’s response to the gift. While it is true that it is the thought that counts, if the person absolutely loves the gift you gave, your joy is even greater.
If I give my daughter a new bicycle, for example, her loving it, riding it, and talking about how much she likes it delights me. She could act very grateful and tell me what a great dad I am, but if she never rides the bicycle at all, I wonder if she means it.
The reason God gives us good gifts is for us to enjoy them. God gets glory through your enjoyment of the things that he gives. Your enthusiasm over his gifts honors the giver.
Paul warned Timothy about wicked false teachers “who forbid marriage, and advocate abstaining from foods” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Why are these teachings so wicked? Because they slap our good God right in his face!
Paul continues in verses 3-5, “…foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Far from feeling guilty about enjoying the good things of this life, you ought to be rejoicing in them. God is good. He directly gives these good things to you. He is most honored by your enjoyment of the things that he gives you.
Don’t misunderstand these instructions to mean that you should forget about God, your Bible, and your church and head for the mountains this Sunday. It is tragically wrong to tread over God blessings with an ungrateful and unrepentant heart. Our delight in God’s kindness must always been in accord with his commands in the Bible.
In 1 Timothy 4:4, Paul instructs us to receive these good things with gratitude. We are to enjoy God as we enjoy his kind gifts, by our frequent praise and thanksgiving. It’s okay to love things in this life a lot. Just love what you love in this life along with your love for God in his goodness. If you can’t love something for God’s sake, you shouldn’t love it at all.
By John Crotts