The Pursuit of Pleasure


I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 2:1

 

By Kyle Idleman

When we lived in California, our older daughter was four and she wanted a pet. I agreed, but there were a few conditions. The pet had to be something that didn’t bark, meow, or make any kind of noise. It couldn’t shed any kind of fur or hair. And the pet had to cost less than five bucks. Within those limitations, we finally settled on a goldfish.

At the store, the fish tank featured a sign offering a “three day guarantee, no questions asked.” To me, this seemed like a safe policy and even good stewardship, not an omen.

I figured he wanted to get out of the cup and into the vast ocean that the swimming pool must have looked like to him.
— Kyle Idleman

Back home, my daughter named him, “Nemo.”  She wanted to play with her new pet, but how do you play with a fish? You can’t take it for a walk or teach it to fetch. But you can take it swimming. So we took a trip to the swimming pool. I explained to my daughter that the chemicals in the pool would not be good for a fish, so we brought Nemo in a glass cup filled with water and set the cup on the very edge of the pool. While my daughter and I were splashing in the water, I noticed that Nemo was watching us. I figured he wanted to get out of the cup and into the vast ocean that the swimming pool must have looked like to him.

After a few minutes I looked over again to check on Nemo, but the cup was empty. Apparently the lure of freedom on the high seas was so strong that Nemo had flip-flopped out of the cup and into the pool. I tried to catch him, but catching a goldfish in a swimming pool is more difficult than you might think. Eventually Nemo rose to the surface, belly up. My daughter wasn’t too upset when I reminded her of the three-day guarantee at the pet store.

When pleasure becomes our primary pursuit, it delivers the opposite of what it promises.
— Kyle Idleman

Nemo might have been having the time of his life, but what he didn’t know was that what promised pleasure was really bringing poison. When pleasure becomes our primary pursuit, it delivers the opposite of what it promises. Pleasure has the unique trait: The more intensely you chase it, the less likely you are to catch it. Philosophers call this the “hedonistic paradox.” The idea is that pleasure, pursued for its own sake, evaporates before our own eyes.

Jesus painted the sharp contrast: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10:10) Here is the powerful truth I hope you discover: When we worship God by denying ourselves, we experience what we were really wanting all along – deep and ultimate pleasure.

 

How To Follow Jesus Today

Think for a moment about the pain that pursuing pleasure has brought you. Reflect on a time  (or times) when the pursuit simply didn’t deliver what it had promised. We are told the cost of following Jesus, but for a few minutes, consider the cost of pursuing pleasure instead.

 

 

KYLE IDLEMAN is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of the award-winning and bestselling book, not a fan. You can follow him on Facebook.


Content from today's devotion was taken from not a fan. daily devotional: 75 Days to Becoming a Completely Committed Follower Of Jesus by Kyle Idleman