March 3, 2008 Ration
I Timothy 6:17
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
This verse is immensely liberating! Liberating in the sense that it frees us from the lead straightjackets we unknowingly wear on our quest for enjoyment. Paul cuts to the core of our hearts botching of what is intended, by God, for our pleasure. Where our affections and our hopes are not firmly, solely, locked on God, we will never be able to enjoy anything fully or rightly, be it riches, relationships, sufferings, or art.
God is the one who has designed things to be enjoyable to our bodies. After making them that way, God is then the one who provides these things to us so that we could enjoy what He has made enjoyable. There is no room for haughtiness among any of us. We all have only because God has given. And God is not a miser, He richly provides us with everything to enjoy!
But our fretful flesh gets in the way of our faith and demands to steer the pleasure seeker according to what it sees through its cataracts. This is where we don the straightjacket. Our flesh, for its full enjoyment of what is pleasurable, needs our faith to lead, and yet it grabs for the reigns. The eyes of the flesh see the status that riches can buy, and so they advise the heart that its greatest enjoyment will be had from the platform that stands them highest over others, through riches. This is haughtiness. Yet faith understands that it is God who stands soaring over all. In this is pleasure! The eyes of the flesh see the current bulging purse and advise the heart to rest at ease, as the future appears hopeful. But the eyes do not know the future! Or, the eyes may see a depleted purse and advise the heart to despair, as the future seems bleak. The problem with the eyes is that they can only see the tangible riches and not the invisible God, who is the Dispenser of all riches. Yet faith has the ability to see and enjoy the Invisible. This is why God did not make the eyes to lead, but to collect information. God Himself will do the leading. And from God Himself comes the faith that we need to be able to most completely enjoy what God gives us for our enjoyment.
Faith sees God as He provides the riches, and faith then enables the body to more fully enjoy the pleasures of God Himself, the Author and Definition of pleasure, in the riches (or the relationship, or the suffering, or the art, etc...).
In our pleasure taking in the arts, faith must be applied to commandeer the mutinous eyes of our flesh. It is not that the eyes are unnecessary. The eyes just need to stay in their sockets and not try to sit in the hearts advisory chair. That is Faiths chair. Where the eyes leave their post, they are mutinous. Where they stand effectively as the scout, the whole body can take enjoyment, or warning, through the information relayed by the eyes. And that is Gods design in creating such sensors, that by them, the whole body would be able to take great enjoyment.
But artist, do not be groundless. There are ways that God does not take pleasure in our enjoyment of what He has made for our enjoyment. Namely, where our enjoyment is not from faith (Romans 14:23).
Paul does not say here that we should avoid enjoyment, he says that we should not error in our understanding of what we find enjoyable. All things enjoyable are enjoyable because God has designed them to be enjoyable. And God has designed them to be most enjoyed when He, their Author, is the end of the creatures enjoyment. Where a creatures pride is their enjoyable end of Gods purpose in making their body dance enjoyably, that creature will be haughty. And a haughty person is incapable of enjoying God because God will censure the haughty.
All the counsel in this verse is transferable to anything that your heart can be haughty with or put its hope on. If riches are not your snare, artist, you should thank God, and then put in whatever else you are so easily ensnared by. As for the [artists] in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of [artistry], but on God, who generously provides us with every-[artistic]-thing to enjoy. God is the source of all things enjoyable. He has made them all from nothing but what He enjoys Himself.
Artists, enjoy God by enjoying what He has given you for your enjoyment in Him. Which means that we must take charge of our hearts, but not with our eyes, rather, from the faith that He gives. Our affections are weak and will stray if we do not earnestly lock our hope for our joy in our artistic pleasures onto God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy!
© 2008 The Gaius Project