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From the Pastors at Joy

Is It OK to Love My Life?

There is no way of getting around the truth that we Americans are a rich people.  Certainly that is true to varying degrees for different people, and I would be foolish to pretend poverty does not exist in our nation.  However most from our body enjoy a high quality of life.  And enjoy it we do.  We have wonderful homes in which to reside. We have food so plentiful that many of us look into pantries and refrigerators full of food before proclaiming that we have "nothing to eat."  We have an abundance of clothing. Some among us can go out to eat on occasion, take vacations on occasion, splurge on new toys on occasion. 

Beside the material gifts we have, many among us have families and friends that we love.  Many also have hobbies and activities that we enjoy taking part in, or watching our loved ones take part in.  I venture to say that while we all experience pain and hardship in varying degrees, we also would largely say that we love our lives.  My question for today is this - is that ok?  You might already be rolling your eyes and thinking I am about to lay a guilt trip on you.  That's not the goal, but honest examination of where our affections lie and what the Scriptures have to say is always important.  Is it ok to enjoy my life?  I will answer with both a yes and a no.

Yes!  It is absolutely ok to enjoy your life if by that you mean you are thankful to God and give glory to Him for His blessings!  Many times in the Scriptures (Colossians 3:15-16, 1 Thess. 5:18, Ephesians 5:20 just to name a few) we are exhorted to live thankful lives in Christ.  What we have been blessed with is stunning, even when it seems like life is rough.  We do well to count our blessings and give all glory and praise to our Father, from Whom they all flow!  So whether it is air to breathe, a tasty meal, beautiful scenery, the money to pay a bill - all of these things and so many more are great gifts from our Father.  

And no!  It is not ok to enjoy your life if by it you mean you love your stuff and are more concerned with keeping it than glorifying God.  This is idolatry, and it is a great danger in our lives.  Many of us fail to acknowledge this, but we live as functional idolaters who love (fill in the blank) at a level that competes with or exceeds our love for God.  So how do I know if my earthly blessings are becoming, or already are, idols?  I think if you are honest with yourself, you can diagnose this with your answer to one question.  

What if God decided to take this from me?  The apostle Paul said that he had learned the secret of contentment, whether having plenty or facing lack.  That secret?  He had Christ, therefore he had everything!  We too must beg the Lord for hearts that rejoice in this truth.  In the book of Job, Satan's accusation before God was that Job only praised God because he had a good life.  That if his precious family and his wealth were taken from him, he would surely curse God.  How about us?  What if God demanded our health from us?  Our children?  Our houses?  Our cars?  Our comfort?  What are those things in your life where, when they get pressed on, you get angry?  Do you realize that your anger is with God?  We must consider that within our flesh there may still be a way of thinking that says "God, I will love you as long as You do what I want."  

We must examine ourselves, brothers and sisters.  We must ask our Father to expose where we love the gifts He gives us too much.  We will not be truly thankful for them until they are in their proper place.  When they are our gods, we cannot truly enjoy them because we are going to war to keep them on their thrones.  We must repent where necessary, and when we do we can ask for and find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need from our great High Priest, Jesus Christ.  

There is great joy to be found in laying every single piece of our lives at the foot of the cross of Christ, following our Savior to a place of sacrifice, and saying "Do what You will with my life and my things.  If I have You, I have all I need."  Where you do not feel that to be true, bring that to Him too, and beg for Him to change your affections.

May our enjoyment of our lives be totally wrapped up in the glorifying of God's name, by the grace of Christ, who is our everything!