Once I posted a picture of a meal I made on social media.

Somebody who saw it asked me, “Don’t you have more important things to do with your time?”

More important than delighting my eyes with colorful fresh produce from the Earth?

More important than decompressing from the stresses of life in the kitchen while crafting those ingredients into something that has never been created before, not precisely as I was about to craft it?

More important than experiencing the sheer joy of seeing the whole thing come together with the nervous hope that it was gonna taste as good as I imagined?

More important than putting my culinary creation on the table, sitting down with my wife, holding her pretty hand in mine, and telling my Creator, “Thank you for the nourishment and pleasure of this meal”?

More important than seeing my wife smile after the first bite and say with approval, “This is delicious! Good job, husband”? Even her critique is enjoyable: “I think maybe less of the sweet peppers next time. What’d you think?” I take another spoonful into my mouth and pay closer attention. Sure enough, she’s right. Or maybe I just like agreeing with her because she’s so good to me, and a better cook than me.

More important than taking in all the holy pleasures God has provided for our enjoyment and elevation?

Well, no.

No, I can’t think of anything more important. I can think of things equally as important but not more important—except the great sacrifice God made for us in Christ to redeem us, and in redeeming us, redeeming pleasure to its good intent.

May I share something for your consideration?

Ever since I became a follower of Jesus, I have encountered this mournful, self-flagellating “spirituality” that is down on pleasure and obsessed with “self-denial.” Yes, self-denial is a good and righteous thing if we mean refraining from bad and unrighteous things. But, as I see it, God-given pleasures protect us from sin. I’m not saying I don’t sin. I do.

I am as fallen and stupid as you are, unless you’re unaware of how fallen and stupid you are, in which case I am as fallen as you are, but definitely less stupid.

All of my theological studies lead me to believe that you definitely do not want to enter the Day of Judgment in a bad mood due to a lack of enjoyment

or, worse yet, a lack of confidence in the Savior’s love.

Imagine you meet God face-to-face in the judgment. You immediately sense that He is not happy about something. He looks straight into your eyes and says, “You didn’t have enough fun. I gave you an incredibly beautiful world and surrounded you with sights, sounds, smells, and flavors. I equipped your body with sensory receptacles and your mind with perceptual powers and emotional capacities. I made you with the ability to experience astounding enjoyment, and you made yourself into a killjoy in My name. You led yourself to believe that pleasure is wrong when I’m the One who built the pleasure system of creation as a gift to you. You starved your body and soul of holy pleasures, and as a result, you fell continually into unholy pleasures, which are really no pleasures at all. I placed you in the middle of a gorgeous paradise, and you didn’t taste, touch, smell, or look upon and experience much of it at all. In this, you have sinned greatly. What do you have to say for yourself?”

That’s not how we generally envision the Day of Judgment unfolding. And yet, that’s how the ancient Hebrew people saw the judgment, based on the creation account in Genesis 1-2.

“A person will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not” (The Talmud).

When the apostle John spoke about God’s desire for His children, he said God wants us to experience “joy to the full” (1 John 1:4).

One of the most counterintuitive accounts of Jesus, almost never quoted because we’re not quite sure what to do with it, is this:

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Matthew 11:19).

This is a firsthand description of what people observed when they encountered God coming from heaven to earth to save us. He “came eating and drinking.”

What an incredible picture of God.

He saves us from sin by socializing us into His love.

Fallen human nature is inclined to over-correct, to swing to extremes. And often, that looks something like running from a lion only to meet a bear. Yes, we should run from sin, but we should not run from God-given pleasures.

We should, in fact, run from sin into the holy pleasures God has so graciously provided for us.

I want to share a secret with you. At least, it sure seems like a secret because I never hear anybody talking about it. Lean a little closer. I’m going to whisper it to you just once because some people will get mad if they hear it:

One of the most powerful things you can do to overcome sin is to flood your senses with all the legitimate and holy pleasures God has provided for you. If you are full of holy satisfaction, the desire for unholy indulgences will be far less attractive.

So go on long walks in the beauties of nature with someone you like.

Get a puppy and lavish years of affection upon it.

Play with your children and laugh your head off with them.

Frolic in the ocean.

Listen carefully to the birds sing in the early morning.

Become captivated by beautiful music.

Buy an old piece of furniture, turn it into something lovely, and give it as a gift to a friend.

And by all means, spend time in the kitchen making delicious food, sit down with those you love, and enjoy it.

Don’t be among those who commit the sin of unenjoyment.

Ty Gibson
Speaker/Director at Light Bearers

Ty is a speaker/director of Light Bearers. A passionate communicator with a message that opens minds and moves hearts, Ty teaches on a variety of topics, emphasizing God’s unfailing love as the central theme of the Bible. Ty and his wife Sue have three adult children and two grandsons.