Seven Reasons Why We Do Not Delight In God
Seven Reasons Why We Do Not Delight In God
Andrew Gray (1634-56) was a gifted Scottish preacher who died and went to be with Christ at the tender age of 22. He left a deep impression on all those who knew him and heard him proclaim God’s truth. James Durham once said that with his preaching “he could make men’s hair stand on end.” Gray’s sermons are published by Reformation Heritage Books. I have found them to be very powerful and convicting.
The second sermon in the collection is entitled “The Necessity and Excellency of Delighting in God.” In it Gray says that “it is the duty of every Christian, and of everyone within the visible church, to delight and solace himself in God.” He is right. God’s Word commands us in Psalm 37:4 to delight ourselves in the Lord. Gray later points out seven insightful reasons why Christians often fall short of delighting in God as they ought. I have listed them below with some brief personal comments after each. We fail to delight in God …
1. When idols have the preeminence in all things: Calvin once called the human heart an idol factory. Though this process of idol making slows down considerably when a person becomes a Christian, the temptation to set one’s chief love and affection upon something or someone other than God still exists. What we learn here is that we cannot truly delight in God if we are giving our primary love, allegiance, and loyalty to something or someone other than God. For westerners, idols usually do not come in the form of statues made with gold, silver, or bronze. Rather, they typically come in the form of job advancement, financial security, material gain, leisure, hobbies, and even family. The Apostle John concludes his first epistle by writing, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” If we heed this admonition, as God’s redeemed people, we will delight in what we ought to delight in, namely, the blessed triune God.
2. We are too worldly minded: Gray states that often “our delight is in this present life, and not upon God. Our worldly mindedness, as it were, has eaten up all our love to God and has consumed all the delight that we had in Him.” For Christians living in 21st century America, the most prosperous country in the world, we must recognize the great temptation to delight more in what we see than in what we do not see. While making this point, Gray appropriately quotes 1 John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” For many outwardly professing believers the love of the Father is crowded out by a love for the things of this world.
3. We too often fall away from lively and near communion we once had with God: Our delighting in God grows cold when our time spent with Him in secret is lacking. When we spend time alone with a friend the relationship is kindled and strengthened. When we do not, the relationship is weakened. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be concerned about empty prayer closets and dusty Bibles. Our delighting in God is directly linked with the time we spend with Him in private. Thomas Brooks states that “Want of private duties is the great reason why the hearts of many are so dead and dull.”
4. We too little delight in God because of the cursed formality that we have in going about duties of prayer: Here Gray makes the case that our lack of delighting in God partly stems from our prayers being formalistic and rote rather than sincere and passionate. Again, this has much to do with our lack of spending time with God in private and with our families.
5. Neglect of duty has great influence on our little delighting ourselves in God: Some Christians think that they can delight in God while paying little attention to His law. On the contrary, for a Christian to truly delight in God, he or she must also delight themselves in the commandments of God. The person who truly delights in God will say as the psalmist, “O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.” (Ps. 119:5)
6. Our little delight in God is also due to our lack of faith: Under Gray’s sixth point, he states that “Nothing will bring delight in God more under a consumption and decay than lack of faith; faith is the good spy of the soul, and it draws aside the veil, so that a Christian may have a clear sight of Christ, and may delight in Him.” Faith is the instrument by which the Holy Spirit, with the Word, unites elect sinners to Christ. If Christians fail to regularly and consistently exercise their faith upon Christ through the means of Word, sacrament, and prayer, their delight in God will surely wane. This is precisely why delighting in God and faithful church attendance are so intimately related.
7. Wrong apprehensions and misconstructions of the ways of God obstruct our delight in God: Gray states that “Nothing quenches love more than jealousies and suspicions; and nothing quenches delight more than misapprehensions and misconstructions of God’s excellent ways.” In other words, when we question God’s goodness or His purpose for our lives we surely will not be able to delight ourselves in Him as we ought.
Dearest members and regular attenders of Christ Church, have we become comfortable with our lack of delighting in God? Have our hearts become dull and our consciences hardened? Has Christ, our first love, taken a back seat to the things our heart has begun to treasure more? Is our lack of delight in God reflected in our poor attendance to public worship on the Lord’s Day or our infrequent times of family and private devotion during the week?
In conclusion, as we consider these hard questions, let us remember that our Lord Jesus Christ was sent to earth to perfectly delight in God for us. Indeed, Jesus Christ, the second Adam, sinlessly obeyed God’s law so that through faith in Him we would be forgiven for our sins and counted as righteous in God’s sight. When we fail to delight in God as we ought, let us look to Christ our Savior for mercy, forgiveness, and grace. This will only cause us more and more to turn from our sin and more and more to delight in our glorious God in the future.