Summary: Even our most magnificent achievements seldom bring total satisfaction - Where do we go to find gusto, to find real joy in life?
"You only go around once in life, so you’ve got to grab for all the gusto you can." Some of us remember that television commercial. But, what exactly is gusto? Well, according to my dictionary, it means "vigorous enjoyment, zest." Good stuff, but where do we find it? Well, according to that commercial, it is by drinking a certain brand of beer. Now, that is certainly a bizarre claim, and I am not going to even spend time refuting it. But the question that commercial raised is very important. As human beings we are on a quest for gusto, but it is a commodity in rather short supply. In our culture many people find a certain degree of happiness in the comfortable lives they lead, but that happiness tends to be very shallow. Not too far below the surface they often struggle with boredom, disenchantment and even despair. I often think of what one of the Dallas Cowboys said after winning Super Bowl XXX. As he sat in the locker room an hour after the game, he asked, "Now, who do we get to play next?" Even our most magnificent achievements seldom bring total satisfaction. Straight A’s on a report card, scoring the winning touchdown, buying a new dress, getting a promotion at work, all make us happy for a few hours, maybe even a few days, but that feeling doesn’t last. Where do we go to find gusto, to find real joy in life?
Friends, today we are going to look at the Bible’s answer to that question. Our text will be Psalm 1:1-6. Here we find a description of the "blessed" individual. What does that word mean? Well, the Hebrew word "hesher" could also be translated "joyous, deeply happy, blissful, even full of gusto." Thus, I like to say that this passage teaches that true gusto is found in godliness. Let’s pause and pray that as we explore God’s Word today, He will show us how we can find true satisfaction in life.
How do we find gusto in life? What road can we take? The psalmist begins by telling us that the road to avoid is ungodly counsel. I might say, "If you want to go to Hibbing from here, don’t turn east on Highway 169. That road will get you to Virginia, not to Hibbing." In the same way, the Lord says, "If you want to find joy and gusto, don’t go this way." Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. These three all have much in common, and they are all roads to avoid. The wicked, sinners, and mockers are all people in rebellion against God. In our day mockers or scoffers seem to be becoming more and more plentiful. On many television sitcoms and other shows, Christianity is ridiculed. It seems that conservative Christians are often the target of jokes and verbal abuse. We need to realize how evil that is because those people are not just making fun of us, they are often making fun of God. Those folks think they are going to find gusto in living in rebellion against the Lord, but they are mistaken. Oh, initially it may look like the right road to take. There are signs that say, "This way to gusto" but these roads are paved with money, sex, and power and are really dead ends. I remember one woman saying to me, "Pastor Dan, I thought if I just left my husband for someone else, everything would be better. Now I realize I will never be happy again." Friends, rebellion against God will not bring happiness in this life and certainly will not bring it in the next. This is not the path that we want to take if we are looking for gusto, and we should not join people who are going in that direction.
Now, at this point some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, Pastor Dan. A few weeks ago while preaching on 1 Corinthians 9, you told us that we need to associate with people who are not believers in Christ." Yes, we are supposed to have contact with wicked people, and we should even try to befriend them. But we should not be listening to their advice or adopting their values. We must not start to think or do things their way. In fact, when that begins to happen we should cut off those relationships. Any friendship which results in our turning against the Lord whenever we are with that person is not a good relationship. If we are in one like that, we need to end it.
Where then do we find true gusto? Well, the road to joy is God’s Word, the Bible. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Let me ask a question: What gives you a genuine thrill? Is it hitting a home run in a softball game? (It’s been a few years since I did that.) How about shopping at The Mall of America, or seeing that one of the stocks you own went up three points Friday? Or maybe it is getting a phone call from that boy you like at school? Here, in Psalm 1, we learn that a person who experiences real gusto is someone who is thrilled, delighted, when he/she reads God’s Word. Now, maybe that seems strange. What can be so exciting about sitting around reading the Bible all day? For many of us the fifteen or thirty minutes we spend in our devotions seem like a long time. But I don’t think the psalmist spent all day reading the Bible. Oh, he read the Bible often, but what he did constantly, day and night, was think about what the Scripture says, what it means, and how it should be applied in life. He meditated on the Bible. In eastern religions, TM, yoga, etc., meditation involves emptying the mind. Biblical meditation is about filling the mind with the truth of God’s Word.