Summary: The gift of enjoyment is a gift that comes from our happy God; without it, life will not satisfy; with it, we can find enjoyment in the simplest of pleasures.
The Gift of Enjoyment
1. There’s a story about a child psychologist who wanted to observe how different children respond to negative circumstances.
They got a room and filled it with horse manure. Putting the pessimistic child in there, they observed how he responded.
Predictably, he whined and cried, and despaired that he was in a room full of smelly manure.
They put the other child in there, and the little guy started tearing around the room, digging in the manure with an excitement that baffled the on-lookers.
After a few moments of watching this, they asked him why he was so excited.
He replied, "With all this manure in the room, there¡¦s got to be a pony in here somewhere!"
2. We’ve all heard comparisons between optimists and pessimists, and the part line is that everyone should be an optimist. The problem is that much of our personalities are genetically determined; it’s pretty tough to turn a pessimist into an optimist.
4. But there is an enjoyment of life that runs deeper than optimism and pessimism. This is what Solomon refers to as the "gift of enjoyment."
5. When we hear the word gift, we usually think of:
(1) eternal life
(2) spiritual gifts
(3) bounty and surplus --- like our Thanksgiving emphasis.
6. But some of God’s gifts are given to all (like the rain); others come as a consequence of our behavior (satisfaction when we have worked hard)
7. The gift of enjoyment can come genetically, spiritually, as a result of circumstances. The Bible does not narrow it down. But one thing is clear: some people have it, for one reason or another, while others do not.
MAIN IDEA: The gift of enjoyment is a gift that comes from our happy God; without it, life will not satisfy; with it, we can find enjoyment in the simplest of pleasures.
TS--------- Let me elaborate on this theme by making two assertions.
I. Without That Gift, Even the Good Things of Life Fail to Satisfy (1-6)
A. There were three measuring sticks of success in Hebrew society:
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all (I Chron. 29:12)
2. Lots of Children
The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity--in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground--in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you (Deut. 28:11).
3. Long Life
Deut. 6:2 reads, "so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life."
B. None of these three, important as they are, are guaranteed to satisfy an individual
C. The real issue: Whether you enjoy life or not depends upon several things, the most important of which is YOU.
1. Has God directly or indirectly given you the gift of enjoyment? If God made you a certain way (with a Sunny Disposish) or if you grow in your relationship to Him, you are more likely to experience an enjoyable life!
2. I think that gift comes in several ways: (1) inherited genetically, (2) developed by a walk with God, (3) the result of a crisis or an awakening, (4) a good peer pressure, and possibly a number of other sources. Somewhere and some way a person picks up the attitudes that enable one to fully enjoy life. Sometimes it may be in our control, sometimes not.
3. ---some people are predisposed to always be depressed; others choose this state through stubbornness and a lack of humility (they won’t learn from others)
D. E.g., Marylu and I have that gift. We REALLY enjoyed our 20th Pastoral Celebration! We knew we were not worthy of such attention and goodness, but that wasn’t going to keep us from soaking it up. It penetrated to our very souls. Many of you have that gift as well.
There was a time when I did NOT have this gift (when I first came here in 1983)because I had fallen for the snare of legalism that said we were only to do that which built up the kingdom.
E. Boone, one of our missionaries, mentioned that the residents in the filthy slums of Nairobi are typically HAPPY people. Yet most Americans are typically unahappy.
F. Is this a gift believers should seek? I believe so. That’s why Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." This is NOT just referring to Scripture, although it includes Scripture.