In Matthew 11, there’s a part where Jesus describes how frustrating it was to minister to that generation. Check out what He says:
“But how can I show what the people of this generation are like? They are like children sitting in the market-place calling out to their friends, ‘We played at weddings for you but you wouldn’t dance, and we played at funerals and you wouldn’t cry!’ For John (the Baptist) came in the strictest austerity and people say, ‘He’s crazy!’ Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life, and people say, ‘Look, a drunkard and a glutton—the bosom-friend of the tax-collector and the sinner.’ Ah, well, wisdom stands or falls by her own actions.” Matthew 11:16-19 (Phillips)
What struck me the most out of this passage was the part in verse 19, the section that said:
“The Son of Man came, enjoying life…”
Wait, Jesus enjoyed His life? Really?
Wow. I knew Jesus was “about His Father’s business” - since His days as a boy - and lived the most intensive, ministry-oriented life ever lived. But even in living that kind of missional life, He also lived life to the fullest and loved life with every fiber of His being. For Him, this was no contradiction.
Here’s the thought for today: if we’re called to grow in Christlikeness - and we are - does that include growing in our enjoyment of life too?
Let me answer that for you: YES.
God meant for you to enjoy your life, not just endure it. Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
In other words: he who laughs, lasts.
Science has begun to catch on to this. Studies prove that when you laugh - a great sign that you’re enjoying life - your number of T-cells and your immunity to illness goes up. Humor is God’s gift to you. Accept the gift!
To enjoy life to the fullest, we need activities and recreation that recharge our emotions. We need activities that literally re-create us. Since God made each of us different, we all have different ways that He does that in our lives.
Since I do a lot of “brain work” throughout the day, I enjoy “re-creating” myself by doing something active, like playing a game with my kids, or sweating at the gym, or cooking with Portia. If your work keeps you active all day, you may enjoy working with your mind, like reading or doing crossword puzzles, as a break.
We have to be intentional about laughing. Laughter is one of those life-activities that NO ONE will do for you. There’s certain things that are like that: your health, your marriage, your rest - things that YOU have to actively give attention to, otherwise no one will do it for you.
Laughter is actually one of the most important ways you re-create yourself on a regular basis. We all need laughter throughout our day. God made us in His image, and the Bible says that God laughs. In fact, God always gets the last laugh (just see Genesis 21 and the naming of Isaac)!
To be an emotionally balanced person, you need to take God very seriously but not take yourself seriously at all. Learn to laugh at your limitations. You’ll have plenty of material!
May you and I grow in our Christlikeness by taking to heart what God says in His Word: “Jesus Christ came, enjoying life!”