Living for the joy set before you...

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But Abraham said, "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony" (Luke 16:25).

Lately I've been thinking about addictions, whether they be fixations on fantasy or money or knowledge or alcohol or prescribed drugs or illegal drugs or sex. Solomon gave himself to these tasty pleasures: "All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure... (Eccl. 2:10). The Temple he built had it's songs and sacrifices but Solomon's palace was rockin'. He concludes that there is no mountaintop-experience, no lasting high: "All a man's labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied" (Eccl. 6:7). In the end, all that this fallen world offers—all of it's vacations and tastes and pleasures and buzzes and escapes—are merely pleasure for a moment. Everything under the sun is only vapor and a striving after wind (Eccl. 1:14).

Yet,  that vaporous moment is goooood, no? Let's string together moment after moment, and we'll get through this alright...

The story of the rich man, Lazarus, and Abraham comes to mind, particularly the words of Abraham: "Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here and you are in agony" (Luke 16:25). The rich man enjoyed his situation, enjoyed his gourmet cuisine, enjoyed his interior designer's choices, enjoyed his Rémy Martin Louis XIII, enjoyed his well-refined appetites—the joie de vivre. Lazarus, who is laid at the gates of the rich man, suffers. Dogs lick the sores covering his body. He is hungry—longing to dip just a finger-tip in the rich man's béarnaise sauce.

The rich man, who liked the vapors of life quite a lot, is like the addict. Life is about the moment and the moment must feel good. We think, "It can't be right that life would be so miserable—pass me another, would ya? Where's that website I like so much? Ahhh...there, that's better." But, as Solomon teaches us, we can't get no satisfaction. The high ends and the misery returns.

What's a man to do? What's the alternative?


Moses was surrounded by the same decadence as Solomon, growing up as he did in Pharaoh's household. Every sort of pleasure was available to him, yet...

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward (Heb. 11:24-26).

Moses suffered, looking forward.

Lazarus suffered in this life, only to have pleasures forever in the next.

Jesus suffered, too: "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief..." (Is. 53:3). "He was oppressed and He was afflicted..." (Is. 53:7).

We should suffer, too. Suffer through the bad things in this life—endure the temptations of this fallen world—by looking ahead to the joy of the life and redeemed world to come:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

By faith, suffer sobriety. Suffer virginity. Suffer purity. Suffer simplicity. Suffer poverty. Suffer sorrow.

Or suffer eternity.

Andrew Dionne is the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Spartanburg, SC. He and his wife Sarah have six children. Read more from Andrew here.