Should Christians Feel Guilty for Enjoying Earthly Pleasures

By: Dillon Burroughs; ©2011
Is it possible to lose your salvation? This age-old question causes more controversy among Christians than perhaps any other. Why? Because we are not discussing a secondary issue of theology, but rather whether we can know for certain whether we will spend eternity with God.

You know the feeling. You’ve just enjoyed a nice meal at a restaurant and pull out of the parking lot only to pass a man holding a sign that says, “Will Work for Food.” Guilt rushes in. Shouldn’t I have fasted today? Maybe I could go back and pick up a meal for him?

Whether this or another scenario, we often find ourselves struggling with the ability to enjoy the things of this world when so many live with much less. While we don’t own a yacht nor do we have a bundle stored in a secret bank account in Switzerland, we still wonder if God is mad at us when we go to a movie, buy a car, or even if we purchase the large soft drink instead of the small.

What does God say on this issue? First, remember that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). We are not to reject the joys of life. Rather, we are called to live thankful for them.

Second, God has called us to use our earthly possessions to help, not to hoard. If you have something to share, share it. But when you have shared, don’t feel bad for enjoying what God has given you. A good father gives good gifts because he loves his children. If his children felt guilty or rejected his gifts, it would not please the father who gave them. Likewise, when our heavenly Father gives us gifts, we can share them as we are able, but we are not to feel guilty for them. We are to accept them as an expression of his love for us.

There are two theological extremes to be rejected when it comes to material possessions: prosperity theology and poverty theology. Prosperity theology is the belief that God will bless us with more money and “things” as we are more obedient to him. Yet, a quick look at the early church puts such thinking to shame.

Poverty theology presents a different problem. Some have seen the excesses of prosperity and have taken the other extreme, claiming that any enjoyment of material possessions is evil. This has sometimes been the case in monastic communities since most make a vow to poverty as part of their commitment. Poverty can be a blessing, but it is not a requirement for godly living. Godly leaders such as Joseph, Daniel, Esther, and even some early converts to Christianity lived a life pleasing to God while enjoying material possessions.

If God has blessed you, remember to do two things: enjoy them and share them. When we do, we honor God and show his love to those around us, living out the Great Commandment in the process.

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