The apostle Paul declared that in the latter days people will love pleasures more than God (2 Tim. 3:1-4). This phenomenon is not new. As we draw nearer to Jesus’ second coming, we may see the fulfilling of this prophecy being fulfilled in our days. Since the beginning of time, man had been searching for a happy, healthy, productive and purposeful lifestyle. It is ironic that the more people seek for it, the more it is beyond their reach. This is what the Preacher in Ecclesiastes had discovered, “And … behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Eccl. 2:10, 11). What is pleasure? Michael Fox in his book, ‘A Time to Tear down and A Time to Build Up, explained that the Hebrew word for ‘pleasures’ (simha) covers a broad spectrum of meanings. This term occurs eight times in the book of Ecclesiastes. It may refer to a ‘deep joy or happiness’; activities of ‘merrymaking’; and even to ‘superficial emotional joy’. Some of the things that contributed to the Preacher’s joy include food, wine, gardens, pools, possessions, treasures, singers, and perhaps concubines (Eccl. 2:4-8).
What then should be our attitude towards pleasure? Christians have been rightly counselled against all forms of promiscuous pleasure – sex, food or materialism. But we may also swing to the other extreme of asceticism which is characterized by its underindulgence. It seems that the Bible condemns pleasures and portrays God as a “Cosmic joy killer”! It is also thought that by repressing pleasure one can test one’s devotion to God and attain to a special knowledge of the divine. Out of such beliefs arose some forms of the monastic life.
But not all pleasures are sinful, unless it turns one from God, the Creator of all pleasures (cf.1Tim. 5:6; 2 Tim. 3:4; Titus 3:3; James 4:3-4). But the same pleasure can also turn one toward God, the giver of all life (Ps. 104:10-15; Eccl. 2: 24-25; 5:19; 9:7; 1 Tim. 6: 17; James 1:17). Despite his inability to discover any ultimate or overarching purpose for life, and despite the pervasive reality of death, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes finds in the blessings of life given by God to His creatures a sure cause to rejoice.
Dr. Paul Stevens in his article on ‘Play’ in “The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity,” puts pleasure and enjoyment on a true biblical perspective.
“The Christian life is fun. It is not always fun – contrary to the argument of the “Christian” hedonists. But it is certainly not boring – not if it is life lived in harmony with the God who creates, works, rests and says, even of God’s own leisure life as he wants to say of ours, “It is good.” Part of learning to enjoy God forever is to learn to enjoy ourselves.”
It is my prayer that our life will attract our fellowmen and women to our Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of“(Jn. 10: 10 Msg.). Have a great and blessed time of enjoyment with your loved ones, friends and relatives during this festive time of CNY!
Rev. Mark Tay