When people talk about simplicity, the concept of “simple pleasure” is often overlooked. I’ve introduced simplicity, shared some symptoms of it, talked about simplicity and stuff, and how the person of simplicity is a generous person. In my estimation, one of the things that hold us back in our adrenalized and advertised culture is how we choose to pursue pleasures which are decidedly not simple.
God, it’s been said, is no prude. For tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, and touching he installed in the human hardware what we might call “pleasure receptors.” He isn’t offended by or afraid of his people enjoying themselves. In fact, he likes it. But we function best when we follow the Hardware Engineer’s guidelines for maximum, lasting, and deepest pleasure.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” In this brief list of passages and the more complete audio podcast of this teaching I propose an alternative to that culturally dictated frenetic pursuit.
I think there exist sinful pleasures, spiritual pleasures, and simple pleasures, and biblically encouraged responses to each.
- Resisting sinful pleasures
Proverbs 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
1 Timothy 5:6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
2 Timothy 3:4 … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
2 Peter 2:13 Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.
Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
Hebrews 11:25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
1 Peter 2:11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
*Consider sharing a “sinful pleasure” you’re tempted by with a trusted friend and ask them to pray for you.
- Reveling in spiritual pleasures
Psalm 37:3-4 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 16:5-6, 11 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
*What are the things that give you pleasure in your spirit?
- Relishing simple pleasures
Read a book, take a walk, run a marathon, listen to music, work in the garden, paint a picture, chat with a friend, pet your dog, pet someone else’s dog, sing a song . . . You get the point. Enjoy God, his creation, the people around you, and the place you have in his world!
*What are your favorite simple pleasures? Consider replacing some of your more expensive and less edifying pleasures with these.
Here’s the audio podcast of this teaching…
The other posts on Simplicity are: