“Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
– Proverbs 21:17
We’ve been raised in a culture defined by instant gratification and total satisfaction. If you want it then getting it now is necessary and good, no matter how much costs you in the long run. Across my generation the lusts of the flesh are deep strongholds.
One of the most deadly ways that I’ve seen Christians worship pleasure is the way we avoid relational tension. Rather than engaging in deep relationships and dealing with each others issues, we maneuver with impressive skill to keep things surface level for decades. Rather than doing as Jesus commanded and exhorting each other towards righteousness by confronting one another’s sin we settle for the pleasure of peaceful relationships while our brothers and sisters drift further from their true identity in Christ, selling souls to purchase the pleasure of tension-free relationships. Doing so will inevitably lead to being poor in eternity.
We need to be wise investors, storing up treasure where it will give us the greatest return. In the context of relationships that means being willing to have hard conversations with people, sitting through the pain of long silences, going through the struggle of learning to love people who frustrate you, and being strong enough in grace to stay in a community when everything in you says run away.
It means setting aside the lie that the goal of Christian relationships is the pleasure of niceness and replacing it with the deep truth that God’s intention is for our relationships be filled with the power of love. Love that looks like Jesus. Love that serves when it’s tired. Love that tells its friend to their face when they’re thinking in line with satan rather than the Father. Love that gives up it’s own comforts for the sake of comforting others because it cares more about other’s good than it does for itself.
If we pursue pleasure for its own sake, our relationships will never have the deep-rooted love that God means them to have. Pursue comfort now and live in poverty for eternity. Follow Christ now and spend eternity in the fountain of pleasure, surrounded by the riches of God’s goodness. Whoever loves the pleasures of this world will be a poor man, but the man or woman who loves Christ and gives all to follow as He leads has infinite riches at his disposal.
The Apostle Paul speaks of how he could abound in all circumstances. He had the same joy and satisfaction in prison cells and barren streets as he did during times of feasting and comfort. I want us to be people like that – people who don’t depend on our circumstances for our happiness or abundance. People who will lovingly confront and coach each other for the sake of eternity, even if it means things are harder in the moment. That is, after all, what Jesus would do. That’s what love looks like.
Let the life of Christ live in and through you, even when that means doing hard things. As you do so you’ll discover depths of love that you’ve never seen before.