Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Determined To Be Pleased"

(Thanks to Jane, Darcy, and Frances for this one)

"I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).

Concerning infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecution, and distresses, we must initially "take pleasure." Because at the outset of our trials, it surely won't be felt.

Defined in the original Greek of the New Testament as thought, deliberation, and determination, "take pleasure" involves the choice of faith whereby we perceive difficulty in a manner completely contrary to our natural inclinations. I am reminded of Frances frequently quoting the perspective of a character in the novel "Pride and Prejudice": "He was determined to be pleased." This is a primary hallmark of walking the Spirit, that "for Christ's sake" we choose to perceive both the pleasurable and the difficult in accordance with the truth that God "worketh all things for good" in the lives of His trusting children (Romans 8:28).

This is both counterintuitive and counteremotional to our flesh. We do not naturally think or feel "pleasure" when life brings pain and loss. Nor in this life will we ever immediately respond to suffering in such terms. Our first reaction will always be the aversion to difficulty that bears no resemblance whatsoever to pleasure. The pleasure of which Paul writes must therefore be taken if we are to walk in the obedience of faith. Our fleshly response awakens us and calls us to trust in God and His Word, thereby putting to death the natural inclinations that lead to grumbling and complaint rather than peace and praise. We "determine to be pleased" by believing the Bible's teaching that the glory of the Lord Jesus is the most important thing in our lives, and that difficulty grants opportunity to exalt Him. As Paul commanded, we take pleasure "for Christ's sake," making the possibility of honoring our Lord more important than our personal comfort.

Authentic Christian living is not for the half-hearted. Great and conscious determination must be made by the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The decision to "take pleasure" in things that trouble us does not come easily, nor will it happen if we do not walk in close communion with our Lord. The Bible's call to "live by faith" beckons the human heart to the greatest challenge, adventure, and opportunity imaginable, providing every day with the fulfilling quest to journey ever more deeply into the heart of God by trusting Him and believing His Word (Romans 1:17). We are alive in the truest sense only when the faith of determining to be pleased invigorates and actualizes this, the very reason for our existence.

"To live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

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