“Let it not be imagined that the life of a good Christian must be a life of melancholy and gloominess; for he only resigns some pleasures to enjoy others infinitely better.” Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
I invite you to carefully consider the truth as expressed by a very well known disciple of Jesus, Blaise Pascal. A child prodigy and rare genius, he was an inventor, scientist, mathematician, and religious thinker. Having died at the early age of 39, it’s breathtaking to read about all that he was able to accomplish. Religiously, he is perhaps best known for “Pascal’s Wager”, which contends that a person has far more to lose if they deny God’s existence and end up being wrong than if they believe in God’s existence and end up being wrong. The merits of this “wager” are argued by many, but I think it is more profitable to meditate on the quote above. It is one of immense value to disciples of Jesus, for we face choices every day between temporary worldly pleasures and eternal Kingdom ones.
I can’t help but think of our Master Jesus’ example as I consider Pascal’s statement. When facing Satan in the wilderness during those forty days of fasting and temptation, Jesus responded to the Tempter’s enticements by declaring, “It is written…” Why did He respond to the devil’s deceptive words with Scriptures about His Father?
Some would say that Jesus’ example shows us the importance of knowing the Scriptures. This is undoubtedly true, but I think there’s more to it than that. Jesus didn’t just know the words, but the meaning, of the Scriptures. He wasn’t just regurgitating sentences He had committed to memory by rote. No, our Master was showing us that in order to consistently and joyfully combat temptation, we must know the very best things our Father has in mind for us. After all, brother Pascal is right in this, Disciple: our lives are to be marked by resistance to temptations as well as by joy. How can we constantly say no to things we desire and still have joy?
The key to this is simply knowing what greater desire we get to embrace by rejecting the lesser one. Only those who genuinely find delight in the goodness of God and His Kingdom promises can joyfully walk away from the enticements of Satan, the world, and the flesh. Consider it on the merely human level: who will more likely succeed at eating better and exercising – those who focus on the benefits and joys of being healthier and losing weight, or those who focus on how much yummy food they’re missing?
I do urge you (and always will!), Disciple, to immerse yourself in the truths of the Scriptures, but not so that you’ll have magic words to chant in times of temptation. No, I urge you to do this so that you can understand the greater vision your Father has for your endless life. Then you’ll understand how “infinitely better” that vision is than any fleeting pleasure you might enjoy. Trust our Father. Trust our Master who reveals Him so perfectly. Trust the Holy Spirit whom they’ve happily given to you as your source of power, wisdom, and joy. And may your life be full of all godly power, wisdom, and joy as you choose the Father’s way over the Enemy’s way time and time again. May it be so today and every day to come, for your life in God’s Kingdom will never end!
Learning to choose the “infinitely better” with you,