Stewardship Week Three: Because I Get Pleasure out of It
If I love God I will love to keep his commandments because it is by obedience that my joy in Christ is made full. In this sense, obedience is not the ultimate goal, joy in knowing Christ is (John 15:11 cf. 8-10, John 17:13). The further I get from under the power of sin, the closer I get to Christ. Just as sin hinders my fellowship with God, obedience works to cultivate my communion with Him and consequently my joy.
I want to be like the psalmist who took pleasure in obedience and said, "I shall delight in Your commandments" (Ps 119:47). My goal is to never obey God merely under a sense of compulsion, but because nothing delights my heart more than to Glorify God by keeping His commandments. If I do not delight in obedience I do not delight in God's glory. I should find joy in obedience because I find joy in glorifying God.
The most intense joy, happiness, and pleasure available to mankind is found in knowing Jesus Christ. Since this pleasure does not come without faithful obedience, I must exhaust my strategies in cultivating a life of obedience to His commands. I argue this point with a simple syllogism: The most intense pleasure is the spiritual pleasure our souls find in God when we live in obedience to His commandments. Stewardship is part of our obedience to His commandments; therefore stewardship helps me experience the most intense pleasure known to mankind.
Before I became a Christian, I spent my time accumulating: accumulating money for drugs, accumulating drugs and alcohol for the night life, accumulating numbers of women I could call for a good time, accumulating respect for myself, accumulating extravagant jewelry for show, and accumulating contacts and friends who can serve me well in times of need.
After coming to know Jesus Christ and the abundant grace of God, I immediately learned that this sort of accumulation was actually counter-productive. Instead of making me happy, this selfish lifestyle catapulted my soul into depression and despair; never satisfied; always after more; constantly under the delusion that the apex of happiness would be right around the corner.
In stark contrast to this, living my life as an offering to God, pouring out my life for others, giving to the poor and needy, giving my time to share the gospel with others, and giving my energy and talent to be abounding in the things of God, all work to plunge my soul into a joy "unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pt 1:8).
It's actually difficult to explain how intense this joy really is which came only when I accepted the status of a poor slave of Jesus Christ, giving up everything I once counted as gain, and counting it as loss for the sake of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. The joy which comes with accumulation of stuff is not worthy to be compared to the joy which comes with exhausting one's energy to demonstrate the love of God in concrete ways to further of the gospel and magnify the Glory of God.
Surrendering my life to God afresh from day to day, that He might be pleased to use me for His Glory, is the ultimate pleasure. Since this pleasure does not come without faithful obedience, I must exhaust my strategies in cultivating a life of obedience to His commands.