Friday, March 19, 2010

Living in Fear of Pleasure

Have you ever noticed how many devoted Christians seem to live in fear of enjoying anything? Almost as if when they take pleasure in anything they are doing something wrong.

I know of so many Christian families who desire to serve the Lord with their whole heart, but they continually walk around with sad, worried faces on as they live with the concern that perhaps they are not pleasing to God.
You know what, though? Walking around being controlled by fear isn't pleasing to God! Jesus did not die on the Cross to set us free from the bondage of sin and death, only to intend us to fall right back into another kind of slavery to fear and anxiety.
Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive to please God, that we shouldn't fear God, or that we shouldn't do our absolute best to follow His Word. But rather that as we go about our daily lives doing all those things, we should make sure to enjoy the wonderful things that God has blessed us with.

I created this blog because I noticed that there was a great deal being said about what was the right thing to do, but nothing about the practical aspect of how exactly to do it. I still think that it is an important thing to address, and I plan on continuing to do so. But as we take principles from the Bible and apply them to our lives in this day and age, let's make sure not to impose extra Biblical standards or rules on ourselves or others. Rules like: no wine, no boy/girl friendships, no makeup, no cars, no doing anything outside of the home, no fun... all work to tie us up into a spiritual and emotional bundle of worry and anxiety.

Now I understand that some people or families have certain rules that are not specifically listed in the Bible, such as no wine, and I think that it is a wonderful thing that we have the liberty to take the personal convictions that God has given us individually and apply them to our lives. (For instance, a man we know used to be an alcoholic and he was convicted of God and was able to quit. He has decided not to have even a taste of any kind of alcohol because it is too great of a temptation for him.) I think that it shows true maturity to recognize the personal weakness that each of us have, and learn how to fortify ourselves against them.

What we need to be careful of is the desire to impose the personal convictions that we have onto other people. (Now I'm not talking about things like not getting drunk; that is something that is clearly talked about in the Bible. Rather I'm talking about things like no wine ever.) It is important to understand that different people have different weaknesses. One man can't even smell wine without putting himself into temptation, and another can enjoy several glasses and not have a problem. One girl might have a problem with romance novels, while another can read one now and then and not have any more of a struggle with her emotions (*I am talking about 'pg' rated books... 'x' rated books are not right for anyone).

The Pharisees excelled at creating extra Biblical rules. If you have never done a study on the Pharisees I would recommend doing some research on them. It is very interesting because they were the 'real' religious men of the time. The trouble is that they often would put man made laws on the same level of importance as the Torah. What their man made laws actually did for the most part was to take God's law and say, "If we aren't supposed to work on the Sabbath, than we shouldn't look in a mirror on the Sabbath because we might see a gray hair and pull it out, and thereby work and blaspheme God".
In theory, it sounds good to extend the boundaries that God put in place so that we don't ever run a chance of breaking one of His commandments. (One example of this is to take the commandment about extra-marital sex and think that if it's good to have a law against that, it's better to have a rule against pre-marital hand holding. Not a problem if it's a personal conviction, but definitely a problem if you use your own rules as a standard to judge others.)

Jesus said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. Romans 8:1-2 says "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The Pharisees, and many Christians today, have simply exchanged the heavy burden of sin for the heavy burden of guilt. It is so sad to see so many Christian girls who seem to still be in spiritual and emotional slavery. This is not of Christ! His burden is light! If you are under a heavy burden, than give it to Jesus and be free. Free from bondage to sin and guilt, and free to have joy and pleasure in your life.

And just because your family has certain rules that you have to follow doesn't mean that you can't be free. As long as you live in your father's household you must obey the rules of the house that are not specifically against God's Word. What I'm talking about is less of a physical action, and more of a spiritual and emotional struggle.

God created good things for us to enjoy as we follow His Word. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10a says "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..."

So don't forget to enjoy the beautiful and wonderful things that God has given us today! If you are interested in reading more about this, I would recommend reading the book of Romans, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible. If this subject is something that you struggle with than you will find it (and especially chapter 8) extremely helpful. :-)


Anonymous said...

Thank you, this was a post I REALLY need in these times. God bless you and your blog :)

Christianne said...

Thanks Joy! This really encouraged me. I hope the Lord has blessed you today.