Monday, May 11, 2009

The passing pleasure of sin

Yesterday when I was in Tallahassee, celebrating my son's graduation from law school, the whole family went out to Chili's for lunch after church. My wife and I had been looking forward to getting a really big, juicy, heart-attack-provoking hamburger that day. For one thing, it was Mother's Day. Plus it had been a great weekend with my kids. But also, Suzy and I have been cutting back on eating for some time - a function of both our age and our effort to save money. For example, we've had a bunch of salads and Weight Watchers microwave meals lately. We figured we deserved a break from all that, and we'd actually talked several times during the preceding week about where we would go out to get this amazing hamburger.

So we thought Chili's would be a good spot. I have liked their burgers and fries before. Our hearts were pounding. Our mouths were watering. We couldn't wait!

But what a let-down. Both Suzy's burger and mine were overcooked, and not all that juicy. Also, the fries were just ho-hum. You know what restaurant fries are supposed to taste like, right? Seasoned, hot, etc. Well, they were just OK.

So we left the restaurant really disappointed. This was supposed to be a special occasion. We were with our kids, and we wanted to enjoy this meal. But we didn't. We left Chili's feeling...sad, regretful, unsatisfied.

It occurred to me that's how sin works.

It looks attractive. It beckons us with promises of fulfillment, gladness, freedom, life. It even looks good on the menu. The first bite or two seem to deliver the satisfaction we're looking for. But another couple of bites, and you find out it's a sham. It's all hype. There's no real substance to it. It's nothing like you imagined it would be. After the initial pleasure wears off, you're just the same as you were before, only now you feel a deep sadness, regret, and emptiness.

By contrast, Psalm 36 talks about how satisfying God is. "Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life...." (verses 7-9). Unlike that mediocre hamburger, God is delightful and deeply satisfying. He delivers on his promises. He gives joy, not regret. Follow his paths and you'll be empowered, not worn down and empty.

Moses got it right. Hebrews 11:25 says that Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time." There is a certain kind of pleasure to sin, no doubt. But it's like a bad hamburger. Christ is the real thing.

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Just give me Jesus.


Christine Fontaine said...

What a great example! And oh SO true! Thanks for sharing!

tom said...

Try Five Guys Burgers next time. You would have to come up with a different example for sin not being satisfying. They are the best!