« Back

Desire For Pleasure or For Righteousness

Posted on September 19, 2021

See on YouTube


Desire For Pleasure or For Righteousness

Ecclesiastes 1:16-2:1, 12-22

Psalm 54

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

I think that we live the majority of our lives seeking pleasure in the world. We seek entertainment and meaning from such. Pleasure comes in many different forms whether it be food, possessions, the next big thrill whether it be roller coasters or amazing vacations through unknown territory. God created in us this sense of curiosity to seek and explore new things and it can give us great pleasure but sometimes maybe we turn our focus towards things without meaning or importance and therefore, allow ourselves to be led away from what God designed us to seek. Case in point, astronomers look up to the sky at night to discover new stars and to gain a better understanding of our universe and how it functions. Many are seeking to find a reason to explain away God and to prove that there is no need for God. They seek the pleasures of the world and the world alone. However, there are some who also look to the sky and try to understand the universe with a lens as God the creator of everything. They seek answers to understand God and the more they learn the more they are in awe of His perfect knowledge and power.

In Mark 9 starting in verse 30, Jesus is attempting to travel alone with his disciples. That is, he is trying to take time out just for them so that he can attempt to get a message through to them. Jesus explains to them that He is going to have people come against him and he is going to die. However, he also explains that he we be raised from the dead 3 days later. When you read this what do you think this means? Pretend that you are reading this for the very first time. What does this message mean to you? I would hope that you would understand that Jesus is going to die and then come back to life. However, it seems that the disciples don’t seem to understand exactly what he is saying and they are too afraid to ask any questions so that they can understand better. Why is it so hard for them to understand? Well as we read on, I think that maybe there is some information that sheds so light onto this question.

Jesus asks them what it was that they were arguing about among themselves as they were traveling. You see it seems that just maybe the reason they could not understand what Jesus was talking about was because they were too distracted about something else. It seems that they were arguing about who among them was the greatest. This reminds me of back in elementary school when group of us boys would argue about whose dad was bigger and tougher. “My dad could beat up your dad.” We were just trying to determine who was better and really who was in charge among us. Unfortunately, that is how us boys are programmed. Girls on the other hand were more focused on sharing and playing house. They were focused on learning skills for their future while we boys were focused on who was bigger and stronger. Well, it seems that things were no different for these 12 men. They were still having such arguments even into adulthood. But I think that because they were so focused on the pleasures of this world of who was the greatest disciple among them that they could not understand the message that Jesus was trying to convey to them. Therefore, Jesus points this out to them and explains that if they really want to be the greatest then they need to humble themselves and become the least important. They needed to make others more important than themselves. They really needed to make God more important than themselves. Righteousness was and is more important than greatness and fame in the world.

It seems that it would not be until much later that the disciples would understand this lesson. Even James the brother of Jesus understood this much later and we read about it is chapter 3 starting in 13 he talks about true wisdom. Wisdom is shown by how one lives their life through good deeds not for show but in humility. It is about doing good for the sake of being good and not to gain anything from such deeds. However, James talks about those who do things out of selfish ambition. They think about what is in it for them. James says that such so called “wisdom” does not come from heaven but it is “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” James says that the wisdom that comes from heaven is “pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

We are told to ask in prayer for if we don’t ask, we will not receive. However, as I am constantly singing to my daughter and my nieces, “you don’t always get what you want.” Why is it that? Just because we ask it doesn’t always mean that it will be good for us. And other times we don’t receive even when it seems like a righteous request because it is not in His will for this to happen in the way we desire. However, we are called to trust Him that He knows what He is doing because he is sovereign. James gives us another reason for why we don’t receive and it is found in chapter 4 verse 3, “When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God knows your heart and whether you will use what he gives you to continue on with righteousness or to seek out worldly pleasure.

Solomon is a great example of a man who worked for and received every kind of earthly pleasure imaginable and in the end, he realized that all of this was meaningless. It was all meaningless because he did all of that work and he cannot take any of these riches with him. What is worse is that someone else after him will receive everything that he worked for and who knows whether he will be able to care for it, maintain it, or even increase it. It could waste away in the wind. The problem that Solomon had was that he was so wrapped up in his pleasures of the world that he forgot about righteousness and he did not train any of his sons who would take his place in how to live and how to care for what God had accomplished in him. Solomon could be gone over night and the kingdom gone the next as well. This was exactly what happened too. His son decided to seek the pleasures of the world instead of listening to wisdom and this therefore split the kingdom.

I think that this is a question that we must often ask ourselves. Is our desire for our own pleasure or is it for righteousness? Do we desire God’s will or do we desire our own will? It is obvious that the sinful nature desires pleasure for itself and Satan attempts to put every kind of pleasure before us. We are called not to live by the flesh though and what the flesh desires. We are called to live for righteousness and to seek God’s will over our own will. We are called to seek humility and to give mercy. We are not called to seek fame and prestige. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do seek out popularity and we see that in our world today and even in the church. We were told to spread the gospel to the nations and not just congregate in one place. That is why we really need to support and pray for our missionaries because they are following the command of the great commission. They are giving up their desire and seeking God’s desire even if in some cases it may cost them their own life. Ask yourself honestly, what is your desire this morning? Is it for personal pleasure or is it for the pleasure of the Lord?