by J. Randal Matheny, editor
The Christian, whose hope lies in the second coming of Christ, knows best how to enjoy this life. He recognizes the true value of earthly life, putting neither too much importance upon it, nor despising it as inconsequential.
Brazilians call the woman a super-mom who has placed in her children her greatest hopes. The derogatory term recognizes that human relationships are a fragile basis for personal fulfillment. And if a relationship can’t fulfill, neither can physical pleasures.
Then there are those who live to eat. Or drink. Or prostitute themselves. The pleasures inherent in human desires and functions become horrible masters which enslave those who make them the end-all of life.
Even when a Christian’s hold on this life is physically tenuous, like Melba Tipton, paralyzed from the neck down since 1973, his enjoyment is greater than the libertine who makes enjoyment of life his god. For physical pleasures make a cruel deity.
Make no mistake, Christians do enjoy this life. Paul provides the perfect contrast with things of this life, in this case, riches, as a basis for hope and as a source of enjoyment.
Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19 NET).
Rather than the desperation of those who eat, drink, and make merry because they expect to die like a dog tomorrow (see 1 Corinthians 15:32), Christians enjoy the pleasures of today, within their proper bounds, precisely because they have hope of life after death.
The Christian enjoys the things of this life more because he holds them lightly, not depending upon them for his meaning or self-worth. He knows they are gifts to be enjoyed, tools for use in the kingdom, stepping stones to greater joy. Even though Paul speaks of a special crisis to the Corinthians, his words still hold true for us,
And I say this, brothers and sisters: The time is short. So then those who have wives should be as those who have none, those with tears like those not weeping, those who rejoice like those not rejoicing, those who buy like those without possessions, those who use the world as though they were not using it to the full. For the present shape of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7: 29-31).
So the saints enjoy the ephemeral gifts of God on earth, knowing that their joy is in heaven, their worth is in Christ, and their glory resides in the God whose presence dispenses with the need for sun and moon.