The Pleasure Test


Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.

Solomon was searching.  Searching for lasting satisfaction but pursuing it in all the wrong places.  He became like a new freshman on a college campus, trying out everything.  He became the ultimate party animal. He tried comedy (v2) and the bar scene (v3).  He poured his energy into architecture (v4) and horticulture(v5) and forestry(v6).  He began accumulating possessions, in a quest for a paradise on earth?  He was the “top dog.”  (v9)

Along with possessions came power and pride.  This kind of pleasure-hunt did not satisfy.  It always promises more than it produces.  Although Solomon gained popularity, he realized that all his searching was just “striving after the wind.”  It was futile.

Our ultimate happiness cannot come from trying to have fun or from trying to create some type of environment that pleases us– true satisfaction can only be found in God.  He is our True Treasure.

In Hebrews 11:24-25 we see the example of Moses:  “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,  choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Paul Apple and Douglas Smith in a commentary on Ecclesiastes:

Our problem is not that we are hedonists, but rather that we are too easily pleased, and rather than getting pure pleasure from God’s right hand (Psalm 16:11) we settle for cheap imitations that never satisfy. Consequently, we have sex but not love, music but not worship, and wealth but not stewardship. We long for the infinite and perfect, yet settle for the finite, imperfect and fleeting pleasures on the earth, which is a sin we need to repent of, turn from, and have forgiven and cleansed by Jesus. It was He, our great God, who was tempted as we are, yet did not settle for sin and instead died for our many sins. He then rose to make us new people with appetites for the pleasures of God instead of the god of pleasure.

“All men seek happiness,” says Blaise Pascal. “This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” We believe Pascal is right. And, with Pascal, we believe God purposefully designed us to pursue happiness. Does seeking your own happiness sound self-centered? Aren’t Christians supposed to seek God, not their own pleasure? To answer this question we need to understand a crucial truth about pleasure-seeking (hedonism): we value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God’s competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.

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