As a dad, I’m not at all times happy when my children obey me. It’s because they should obey with a glad and honest coronary heart, and that isn’t at all times the case. Any little one can muster grudging compliance. I’m longing to see a keen spirit and joyful belief.
The command to be joyful permeates the Scriptures, but it surely’s a bit unusual if you concentrate on it. Pleasure is an emotion, not a habits. How can I be informed to really feel a sure manner? What if I need to however simply . . . don’t?
Let’s begin with one thing we don’t usually take into consideration on the subject of God.
It could sound considerably unusual, however God is completely happy. Happier than the happiest individual you’ve ever recognized. His gladness stretches again earlier than the start, when infinite pleasure was contained inside a triangle of affection. For all of eternity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one God in three individuals—delighted to share the enjoyment of divinity with each other.
So why did the triune God create the universe? Was he missing one thing, maybe compliant creatures to finish him? No. The creation of the world was an explosion of pleasure—not a filling up, however a spilling out. Take into account that for a second: Not solely the astounding pure world, however you and I, created by God, are an overflow of his exceeding pleasure. In extravagant generosity, the individuals of the Trinity determined to share their boundless gladness with the work of their arms.
What does this mini theology lesson must do with approaching your Bible joyfully? Every little thing—as a result of that’s the God who exhaled its phrases, and in whose picture you might be made.
You had been made to be completely happy in a contented God.
Not an Accent
Tragically, after all, the “happily ever after” of Genesis 1–2 was short-lived. Now we inhabit a Genesis three world, riddled with darkness and dysfunction and dying, as I’m certain you’ve skilled. (For those who haven’t, preserve residing.)
Have you ever ever puzzled why the Bible is so prolonged? One motive is as a result of God is so affected person. It’s the lengthy story of his longsuffering. And why has he been so affected person? As a result of he loves us, sure. However much more particularly, as a result of he’s been fastidiously executing a plan—a plan to share his infinite pleasure along with his rescued folks, a large number nobody can depend (Rev. 7:9).
Have you ever ever puzzled why the Bible is so prolonged? One motive is as a result of God is so affected person. It’s the lengthy story of his longsuffering.
In accordance with the Bible, pleasure isn’t an adjunct to the Christian life, a perk for shiny saints who can flip their frowns the other way up. Slightly, pleasure is tenacious. It fights. It grips the guarantees of God and gained’t let go. And pleasure isn’t a mere good temper; it’s ballast in our boats, an anchor in our storms, an immovable rock to face on when the waves of life threaten to flatten us.
Removed from being a peripheral subtheme in Scripture, pleasure is the heartbeat of God. No marvel it’s on the core of his final story and is meant to form our smaller tales, too. Take into account a snapshot of its centrality:
- What’s the gospel? It’s “good news that will cause great joy” (Luke 2:10).
- What’s dying? “Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt. 25:21).
- What’s the aim of prayer? “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).
- What’s the aim of fellowship? “I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12).
And what’s the aim of participating with Scripture? “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jer. 15:16).
Gladness of coronary heart, Jeremiah found, is downstream from the feast. The identical is true immediately. Regardless of what our tradition tells you, actual pleasure isn’t present in listening to your self; it’s present in listening intently to God. It’s discovered when your “delight is in the law of the LORD” (Ps. 1:2), when your happiness is tethered to not circumstances however to guarantees, when you may’t get sufficient of your Bible.
Regardless of what our tradition tells you, actual pleasure isn’t present in listening to your self; it’s present in listening intently to God.
The New Testomony solely advances this theme. Right here’s how Jesus places it to his disciples:
These items I’ve spoken to you, that my pleasure could also be in you, and that your pleasure could also be full. (John 15:11)
And right here’s what he prays to his Father:
. . . now I’m coming to you, and this stuff I converse on the planet, that they could have my pleasure fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)
Observe additionally the phrases of John:
. . . we’re writing this stuff in order that our pleasure could also be full. (1 John 1:4)
Hear the chorus? These items, this stuff, this stuff—specifically, phrases. Some spoken (by Jesus), some written (by John), however all of the breath of God, and all preserved for us in his Phrase.
The aim of the phrases of Jesus and his apostles—the aim of your Bible, buddy—is to flood your coronary heart with pleasure.
When Delight Dries Up
I already talked about that biblical pleasure isn’t the identical factor as being chipper or sustaining a glass-half-full temperament. Hell is crammed with former glass-half-full folks. Actual pleasure is a lot extra, and so significantly better.
It’s the nature of self-discipline to provide strategy to delight.
One final thing, although, lest you get the impression that Bible studying is an uninterrupted joyfest for me. It’s not. Cracking open God’s Phrase usually looks like an obligation, not a delight. It requires self-discipline. It’s going to for you, too. However as with a lot in life—maintaining a healthy diet, figuring out, and different sensible issues I wrestle to do—it’s the nature of self-discipline to provide strategy to delight. Not each time, and never . However steadily and more and more, till the day we see our King nose to nose and behold him in his magnificence—with pleasure that by no means ends (Isa. 33:17; 1 Cor. 13:12).