When we savor the sweetness of honey or sweet tea or pumpkin crunch cake, we engage in a fancy bit of “reading.” We transpose the physical enjoyment of taste onto our souls and offer thanks to God, not only for the simple pleasures of food but also for the spiritual pleasures to which the food is but a fitting echo.
Is this guilt connected to any particular, concrete sinful attitude or action? Or is it rooted in a vague sense that I’m not enjoying God enough (whatever that means) or that I’m enjoying his gifts “too much”?
Am I attempting to detach from creation and God’s gifts out of fear of idolatry, lest my love for them surpass my affections for him?
Am I overly suspicious of created things, looking at my delight in ice cream and sunny spring days and hugs from my spouse with a wary and skeptical eye, perpetually unsure whether they’re too precious to me?
Do I have the sense that as I progress in holiness, my enjoyment of fresh raspberries and hiking in the mountains and an evening of games and laughter with old friends ought to diminish, because I’m becoming increasingly satisfied with God alone?
Do I regard certain activities like prayer, worship, and Bible reading as inherently more holy and virtuous than others like doing my job or listening to music or taking a nap?
2Co 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
John MacArthur notes on this verse:
"This is not a command to eat honey, but an analogy to seek the sweetness of wisdom's rewards." The cross reference given is:
Tasting the Lord's goodness is not by the flesh but by the spirit. The world eats honey and all kinds of food, but so what? They don't come to know Him by that. In fact, this reeks of natural theology.
Such a theology doesn't work in Africa or other third world countries. It doesn't work
in persecution. Paul didn't get to know God by earthly pleasures of honey or ice cream or family and friends. He was beaten, ship wrecked, and deserted by everyone at one point. Yet he knew God's grace all the more. He knew of God's faithfulness all the more. In times of want, not merely times of plenty, he knew what it meant to be content in all things. That is not what Joel Rigney is promoting.
Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Rom 5:2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
Rom 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Rom 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Jas 1:3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Jas 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If the pleasures of this world are more interesting and enjoyable than sitting at the Master's feet, then we are idolizing those things. If we are gluttonous with food (honey, ice cream), we are sinning, no matter how you try to sanitize it with Christianese. If we place Scripture last (aka "ultimate") in our lives, then we are idolizing something else.
Are we not to enjoy God's gracious gifts? Of course we are. James 1 says, after talking about the view of counting all trials with joy and that they are for our spiritual growth (earthly pleasures are not listed) it says God is the giver of all good gifts, primarily and supremely Scripture and eternal life (see the context). Proverbs and Ecclesiastes also talk about enjoying the life God has given us. However, it does not command or infer that to enjoy temporal things = knowing God. We know that from Heb. 11:
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Heb 11:2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Recognizing God's gracious gifts to us and praising Him for them is commanded, but it is not the vessel through which we know God. We know Him through a new heart and through His Spirit and Scripture (John 14-15 calls it abiding in Him). Earthly pleasures are temporary and tainted and very circumstantial. But knowing God is so much more deeper than mere flesh.