THE CHRISTIAN AND LUXURY AND PLEASURE
As Christians, we know that luxury and pleasure do not bring lasting joy and satisfaction. But on a more fleshly level we are tempted to believe they will. Because many of the comforts of life are not essentially sinful, the stage is set for possible deception. We like to think that we have discerning minds to determine how much luxury and pleasure is permissible. But our minds become servants to our hearts and we will try to fulfill and justify our desires if we have an unsanctified heart.
Materialism, the belief that material things and pursuits will bring fulfillment, is at the root of our inordinate desire for luxury or pleasure. It beckons us many ways. Fine homes, rich food, comfortable cars, attractive clothing, and successful farms and businesses all appear to us as things to be desired. And that ally of the evil one, our flesh, lusts after these things. We may set goals, but finding no lasting satisfaction when we reach them, we set yet another goal. If we follow the lure of materialism, it will negate the quiet voice of the Spirit. In this quest to attain, we make an awful trade, exchanging the unspeakable riches of a relationship with God for luxury and pleasure.
We can warn about the deceitfulness of riches and pleasure. We can make guidelines in an endeavor to define what activities are permissible and what level of luxury is acceptable. But until we surrender our will to God, guidelines are not effective. Jesus said He came to bring us life—the more abundant life. He said He would give peace the world cannot give and a joy that is full and complete. Jesus said we should come to Him, and He would give us rest. He told of a wise man who sold all he had to buy the field in which he had discovered a hidden treasure. Jesus told a scolding Martha that Mary, listening at His feet, had chosen the better part. When He asks us to give up something, He offers us something of inestimably greater value.
For the majority of the world’s population, owning an automobile would be a luxury. In rural North America it is considered a necessity, and luxury would be defined by the caliber of vehicle. Often yesterday’s luxury becomes today’s necessity. Thus it is futile to try to define in definite terms what constitutes luxury. Doing so will likely lead us to gauge our spirituality by whether we stay inside the boundaries that have been set. This only leads to frustration and confusion in the changing times we live. But God is not relative, and He is not confused. He sees the content of our heart and knows where our affections are placed. He has promised to be our Guide and to supply every provision we need. God will give us direction as we look to Him for our joy and as we trust the gentle voice of His Holy Spirit.
Pleasure is not necessarily sinful. God has given us bodies and senses that are wonderfully and marvelously made so that we can enjoy many things. He has given us a beautiful world and a majestic universe in which to live. Song and the wonders of nature are some of many things that were given to delight us so that we might magnify Him as Creator. However, when the pursuit of pleasure becomes the purpose of our life, we cease to glorify Him. Paul said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12).
Instead of pursuing luxury and pleasure, let us set our heart on God. If our faith is weak and we do not believe He can give complete enjoyment, we may fall prey to the deceitful promises of materialism. But if we believe God’s great and precious promises we will partake of the divine nature and rejoice in His rich satisfying Presence. Our fulfillment will be complete and in this way we escape the decay that is in the world because of lust. Read 2 Peter 1:3-4.
Sunday School Lesson, Adult and Youth, October 2, 2016