I must confess that for most of my life I had no concept of what it means to enjoy God. Fearing God, worshiping Him, loving Him, glorifying Him, serving Him—yes; but enjoying Him?
Then, nearly 20 years ago, I picked up the little book by John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight. In it he demonstrates from Scripture that the enjoyment of God, or “pursuing pleasure in God is our highest calling.” He also made a profound observation that I cling to, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
The idea of enjoying God is not some new twist or the latest fad. Nearly 400 years ago, the writers of the Westminster Catechism stated, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But the enjoyment of God didn’t originate there either.
I’ve loved the Psalms and have been drawn to them since I was a child. I’ve often read five Psalms and a Proverb a day as part of my quiet time with the Lord. Because of my familiarity with the Psalms, it didn’t take much effort to recognize that the enjoyment of God is central to its message. Here are just a few examples:
Psalm 32:11, “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad…”
Psalm 34:1, “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.”
Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God…”
Psalm 63:5, “I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.”
Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
“Enjoy” is a verb that means to find pleasure or delight in someone, an experience, or an object. We might talk about enjoying a movie or a restaurant. The problem is we view those enjoyments as matters of personal taste and based on our mood. We might enjoy one type of food one night, yet not on another. Such “enjoyment” is fickle and subjective.
When we talk about enjoying God, neither our personal taste nor our mood comes into play. As different personalities, we may express our enjoyment of God in various ways, but our personality or mood should not determine whether we enjoy Him.
“Joy” is a noun and describes the sense of pleasure or delight we find in someone or something when we enjoy them. Regarding our enjoyment of God, Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)
In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the hidden treasure, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Jesus Christ is that hidden treasure over which we rejoice! We treasure or enjoy Him above all else!
So many people have such a heavy, burdensome view of God that taints their relationship with Him. Have you ever heard someone say, “The Bible says I have to love you, but it doesn’t mean I have to like you!” I think some even see their love for God in this way as obligatory, instead of welling up in joy as the above Psalms proclaim.
We know that He loves us and wants us to love Him. But God isn’t glorified by some cheap form of obligatory love. Enjoying Him is one of the most genuine forms of expressing love toward Him, or anyone else for that matter.
Enjoying God also draws others to Him and is central to the message of the Gospel. When we’ve enjoyed a great movie or the delicacies at a new restaurant, we can’t help but tell others. Through our joy and enthusiasm such expressions “go viral.” So it is when we express to others our enjoyment of God, or they simply observe our enjoyment of God in the way we live.
When the angel appeared to the shepherds the night Jesus was born, he declared, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
And when Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi, I believe it was through their prayers and praise to God that the jailer even knew to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” And after hearing the Gospel, “The jailer… was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” (Acts 16:25-34)
Our enjoyment of God also impacts the way we view eternity. Again, many have a boring view of what heaven will be like sitting around on clouds strumming harps! That’s not at all what eternity with our Lord will be like. Instead, here’s how David portrayed it:
“No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:9-11)
A friend of ours hearing for the first time that God urges us to enjoy Him, blurted out, “This changes everything!” Learning to enjoy God, finding our joy in Him, and being fully satisfied in Him is lifechanging.
Our enjoyment of God changes the way we interact with Him. Enjoying Him results in praise and adoration and powerfully impacts our own joy. The writers of the Westminster Catechism were right: God designed us to enjoy Him!
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.” (Isaiah 61:10)