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Joy or fun?

What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What joys await us inside your holy Temple. — Psalm 65:4

Some people say they are not interested in religion because they’re having too much fun. Should you, by chance, catch them in a somber moment, they may admit there is value to a faith life, but they don’t want it to interfere with their fun life. They may even concede that, toward the end of their days, they will probably take religion a little more seriously. Only after they’ve had their fun!

It isn’t that such people are against a life of faith, it’s just that they see it as a hindrance to having fun. They do not necessarily deny the existence of God; in fact, they may even call on Him when they’re in a fix. It’s His reputation as a somber old spoilsport that bothers them. They think He’s no fun.

God is certainly serious, and He warrants serious thought and deep devotion. Furthermore, the issues of life and death that God speaks to us about demand that we stop playing around and start getting our lives on track. But to imagine that these serious issues are antithetical to the deepest joy and enjoyment is to seriously misunderstand the essence of who God is and what He offers to His people.

The psalm writer, speaking realistically about his life, said, “Though our hearts are filled with sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near” (Psalm 65:3-4). Indeed, there is no deep joy for people who have a guilty conscience, no matter how much fun they are having! There is unspeakable joy, though, for the person who knows release from guilt and the relief of forgiveness. And while many people have the impression that church is boring, the psalmist exclaimed, “What joys await us inside your holy Temple” (65:4). Ironically, it is the people who take God seriously enough to learn the serious deficiencies of the fun life who discover the joy of the forgiven life.

The joy that God gives is infinitely more durable and enjoyable than the “fun” that is available apart from Him. Those who are forgiven discover that the world is full of people just like them who rejoice in the Lord’s goodness. The psalm writer celebrated this fact: “Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy” (65:8).

When you have experienced God’s forgiveness and release from a guilty conscience, there is no shortage of people with whom to share your joy! And there is not a place on earth where you will not find reasons for rejoicing. Observe creation and you will see that created things “all shout and sing for joy” (65:13). That’s much better than just having fun!

For further study: Psalm 65

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.