MANAGING PLEASURE AND HAPPINESS
TEXT: Pro 9:17-18; Heb 11:25
- Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell (Pro 9:17-18 KJV)
- Choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season (Heb. 11:25 KJV)
Today’s lesson is set to examine emotional state of man with regards to pleasure and happiness and some exigencies and management of these emotions. The lesson will concentrate more on pleasure since happiness is subsumed therein.
What is Pleasure?
Pleasure is a broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or regard as worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria. (Wikipedia)
But simply put, pleasure is taking delight in doing or experiencing something or action whether good or evil; being in agreement that such is done sometimes without a recourse to its desirability or otherwise.
We shall examine pleasure in two broad frames: having pleasure in acts or actions; and living in pleasure. The latter simply connotes living in sin; yet they both take similar traits.
Triggers of acts that give pleasure
- Desire – when desire is unabated (persistent, unrelenting, unceasing, unrestricted), it results in acts that give pleasure.
- Indulgence – being tolerant or lenient could create acts that are pleasurable.
- Self-love – an act of narcissism and, or selfishness driving pleasurable pursuits.
- Loneliness – a state of lonesomeness or solitude can be broad way to acts of pleasure.
- Inducements – incentives, bribes etc. are sure baits of lures to acts of pleasure.
- Visual factor – filmic, optical and, or pictorial exposition trigger acts of pleasure.
- Disappointment – frustration can push one to act and pursue compensatory pleasure.
- Ignorance – sometimes, in utter obliviousness one acts and takes pleasure in it.
- Vaulting ambition – when ambition is bounding, leaping, it could create inconvenience, and is pleasurable.
- Poverty of the knowledge of God - “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God” (Hos. 4:6). James admonishes, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him” (Jam. 1:5). Lack of the knowledge of God and living in pleasure are almost synonymous.
Antidotes to Living in Pleasure
- Contentment – having contentment, makes it difficult to live in pleasure.
- Self-control – taking charge of all of one’s positive values negates living in pleasure.
- Discernment – ability to discern what the likely outcome or consequence of what one is into that gives one delight. This is a virtue which is not within the ambit of everyone.
- Right companionship – making right choice of friends is a key issue. An extract of a song says, ‘make friend of God’s children’. Right friendship promotes right attitude and values and helps manage pleasure.
- Good family background – coming from, or making one’s own family desirable, alluring and enticing could stem the tide of indulgence.
- Knowledge of the word of God – “till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine …………..meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1Ti 13-15 KJV).
Management of Pleasure
Befriend wisdom and understanding –“My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; and when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman” (Pro 6:20-24). “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding (Pro 2:6). Furthermore, “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee” (Pro 2:11). These is valuable to pleasure management.
Don’t be a fool to pleasure – “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life” – Pro 7:22-23. Be in control and of sound mind over whatever situation or apparent pleasure that is set before you to enable you decipher whether or not to associate with such situation or pleasure.
Be wary of fair speeches – “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him” – Pro 7:21, then comes discretion and wisdom that should create mental alertness:
- To deliver thee from the evil man, from the man that speaketh forward things; and
- To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words – Pro 2:12, 16.
Know your limits, and then keep them. Be it social entertainment limit; social interaction limit; social events limit; socio-economic limit. Keep to your limit and take no pleasure in exceeding same; avoid boxing yourself into a corner. Anything short of this, you would have succeeded in exposing your limited knowledge on these social issues or your gluttony. In other word, do everything in moderation where there is any good report in it. (Read Hab 2:5).
Be actively and positively engaged – idle mind, they say, is the devil’s workshop. But the Preacher says, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man; he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Pro 21:17). So, as the master with talents enjoins his servants, “Occupy till I come” (Luk 19:13), even so a meaningful engagement draws man away from the trappings of the pleasure of sin and unjust gains.
Third Party Pleasure Management
It is possible to absolve self from entanglement in sinful pleasure and happiness as direct beneficiary, yet in friendship with one who engages in and takes pleasure in unpleasant acts one may be compromised. If a brother takes pleasure in the act of his friend or a fellow brother, he needs a third party pleasure management help. In Romans 1, the Scripture adduces to one who is filled with all unrighteousness, who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit the listed offences are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. A buyer of a stolen item is equally guilty of an offense. A friend of an idolater may not be guiltless. Evil companion corrupts good manners. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2Cor 6:17) is very apt here.
In conclusion brethren taking pleasure or happiness, as earlier stated, is not only about engaging in or rejoicing over evil acts. Whatever act that pleases man when such is performed has the tendency to create pleasure and happiness; and to some extent, fulfillment be it good or evil. ‘The pleasure is mine’ is a common response to one who shows appreciation. But living in pleasure is living in death (1Tim 5:6).
To Christians, it is expected we take pleasure in and be happy about things that promote the cause of Christ; assisting people; and in enduring affliction. Hear Apostle Paul: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong (2Cor 12:10). Therefore as much as lieth within a Christian, abstain from entanglement with evil acts, for managing pleasure could be an uphill activity. Don’t forget that stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. Who would want to spew a pleasant thing from his mouth easily? But the death knell is knolled. May this not be our portion in Jesus name.