Pleasure Pursuit

Posted: January 13, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Ecclesiastes Lessons
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Attention Funnel: Food-Eating Contests

 Introduction:

  • Often in this life we take good things and we end up misusing them.
  • We hope to get more out of them then what they really offer.
  • Rather than accepting the good things for what they are, we take them and try to make them what gives us life, purpose, meaning, and satisfaction.
    • Rather than accepting Hot Dogs as a thing to be enjoyed, people take them and try to eat as many as they can in order to win a prize,
  • One of the ways we do this as humans is that we take pleasure and make it the end all of life.
  • Solomon is going to test this way of life out for us… he’s going to put pleasure to the test, to see if it can give him the meaning and satisfaction in life that he craves for.
  • And spoiler alert, He is going to find that it comes up empty.

Big Idea: Pleasure is a good gift from God.

 Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; 2:24-26

 Main Points:

  • Pleasure is not the problem
  • Pleasure unhinged from God is the problem.
  • Enjoy pleasure as a gift from God.

Pleasure is not the problem.

  • Look at the list of what Solomon Pursued…
    • Laughter is not a bad thing.
    • Accomplishing great things – building skyscrapers, gardens, parks, and all kinds of other stuff – becoming a great athlete, achieving a 4.0, getting into that dream college, is not a bad thing.
    • Having material stuff is not a bad thing.
    • Having lots of money is not a bad thing.
    • Alcohol is not a bad thing.
    • Having sex is not a bad thing.
    • These things and the pleasure they bring are not bad.
  • Pleasure – feeling good – is designed by God. God made us to feel pleasure!
    • The reason all those things on that list might feel good is because God designed us to enjoy those things.
  • Sometimes as Christians we look at something God has created for us to enjoy and we have a, “Just say no approach!” But when we do that, we actually demean God as the one who created it all.
    • Imagine with me that tomorrow night Bri spends time preparing a feast for me. She doesn’t hold back anything. She makes an amazing appetizer – some sort of cheesy crap dip. She pours us both a tall glass of Hawaiann Punch. She makes the best-looking burger you could ever imagine – juicy, big, with bacon, crispy onions, an egg. She makes the greatest tasting fries you could ever imagine. And then she makes this peanut butter chocolate pie that literally looks and tastes live heaven in a bowl.
    • How offensive would it be for me to come home from work, and look at it all and say, “That is all so unhealthy. I’m going to eat carrots.”
  • This is what it’s like, when we look at something God has created and say, “That thing is bad!”
  • Or sometimes we can think that God is someone who’s only out to ruin all our fun and keep us from really enjoying life.
    • Sadly, some of us also have this view of God that essentially sees him as a grumpy referee.
    • Like he’s up there mad that we are having fun and all he really wants to do is throw a flag at us. He loves to step in, flow his yellow flag, and blow his whistle, and say, personal foul – 15 yard penalty.
  • Apply:
    • If when we think about God, we think about him as a killjoy – someone who loves to withhold and or ruin fun – then we are not thinking about the God of the Bible.
    • If we think the way to live a godly life is to say “NO” to all pleasure, then we misunderstand that God created pleasure.

Pleasure unhinged from God is the problem.

  • Our hearts are sinful – and so we often try to remove God from the picture.
  • We think we don’t need Him or we don’t want Him to interfere…. We want the stuff he’s created, but we don’t want Him.
  • 1) Pleasure unhinged from God is never enough – it’s hollow.
    • The Greatest Show – “It’s everything you want. Everything you need. And it’s right here in front of you.”
      • Peggy Lee’s response to seeing the Greatest Show, “And when I was twelve years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears. And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads. And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle I had the feeling that something was missing. I don’t know what, but when it was over I said to myself, “is that all there is to a circus?
    • Pleasure apart from God leaves us asking, “Is that all there is? Is that really all life has to offer?” And too many of us convince ourselves, if I could just get more of the same, then I’ll find what has been missing.
  • But here is where we need to learn from Solomon – more was never enough.
    • Solomon experienced more pleasure then we will ever experience.
    • Solomon tells us – “I had the best parties in the world… and it got old. I built an incredible empire… and eventually I got bored. I had so much money that I could swim in it – I was literally Scrooge McDuck. I had more women then you could remember their names… and they weren’t enough – it was all vanity in the end.
  • 2) Pleasure unhinged from God is dangerous.
    • In Prince Caspian, Lucy and Susan are playing with Aslan when he returns to Narnia. He awakens the forest and all sorts of people show up to take part in a party of sorts. The sisters see a wild boy dancing among the party who they later find out is Bacchus – also known as Dionysius, the God of wine. Susan responds to this discovery by saying, “I wouldn’t have felt very safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.”
    • Pleasure is only safe for us when God is there. And as soon as we unhinge pleasure from God, it becomes dangerous to us.
    • If you look at the life of Solomon – this list of pleasures becomes part his downfall.
    • As a young person – it’s very easy to hear the dumb mistakes that other people have made when it comes to pleasure and think, “I’ll do better. I’ll be able to control it. I won’t get addicted. I won’t make the same mistakes they did. I won’t get hurt like they did.”
    • If someone would jump into a pool that has a shark in it and then come back with a bite on their leg and telling you there is a shark in the pool, none of us would walk out the door saying, “I’m going to go jump into the pool and I’ll do better.”
    • And yet when it comes to pleasure – specifically pursuing it apart from God – we somehow convince ourselves that we can do it and we won’t get hurt. I beg and plead with you… don’t believe that lie.

 Enjoy pleasure as a gift from God.

  • See, pleasure is not the problem – our heart’s desire to have pleasure apart from God is the problem.
  • The answer is not to say “NO” to pleasure, nor is it to try to give every ounce of pleasure that we can.
  • The answer is to receive pleasure as a gift from God – This is what Solomon gets at in vs. 24-26. We are meant to enjoy life and the good things of this life as a gift from him.
  • And when we do that, several things happen…
  • 1) We accept the boundaries he puts around pleasure.
    • When you give a little child a gift, sometimes they do not understand how to use it. Bri and I just gave our nephew a birthday gift… A massive box of PlayDoh. Now, often when children first discover PlayDoh, what do they do? They shove it in their mouth. “Gushy, colored blob… that seems like something I should eat!”
    • And what do their parents do… “No, don’t eat that.” And why do parents do that? Not so that their kids won’t have any fun, but rather because they know that PlayDoh is actually more fun when you play with it.
    • When God gives us a good gift – like money, sex, alcohol, food, or anything else. He places boundaries around it that are meant to help us enjoy that gift – he calls us to be generous so that money will not rule our hearts. He tells us not to have sex outside of marriage so that we will find it’s joy with the safety of a covenant. He tells us to follow the laws of our country and not drink under 21 or get drunk, because alcohol can just as easily lead us to do dumb things as it can be something to enjoy.
    • The boundaries God puts around his gifts are there to help us enjoy them more.
  • 2) We find happiness not just in the gift… but in the one who gives it.
    • I got this watch two years ago for my birthday. I really like this watch. I wear it every day and I use it whenever I run. If I would have received this watch from some unknown person, it would have been cool, but I always would’ve been wondering… who did that come from? Who gave that to me? I want to be able to thank them for such a generous gift.
    • Luckily I know exactly who it came from – Bri gave it to me. I put on that watch each morning standing in the same room as her. I don’t just get to enjoy the gift – I get to enjoy the person who gave it to me. And, she is far greater than a watch!
  • God’s gifts are ultimately meant to point us towards him as our greatest source of joy. It is when we enjoy God and find our greatest pleasure in him that every other gift he gives fits properly in place.

 Conclusion:

  • There will be times in your life where pursuing pleasure outside of God’s boundaries seems and feels like the right thing to do. God’s boundaries will make it seem like he doesn’t care about you or want what’s best for you. You desperately need to remind yourself of the Gospel in those situations – God gave up His very son for you. Why would he ever want to do what is bad for you now?
  • There may be times in your life where you have stepped out of God’s boundaries for pleasure, and as a result you may experience brokenness, shame, and guilt. The temptation can be to run after more of the same pleasure to try to numb, heal, or dull that brokenness, shame, and guilt. But you need to turn to Christ, finding forgiveness, healing, and a new identity in Him.

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