Jamie, a professional artist, sometimes feels guilty for the long hours she spends in her studio. She wants to “take up” her “cross” to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), but she enjoys painting. Does that count? She wonders if she loves her art too much, in an idolatrous way. Sometimes she feels she must “pay” for her enjoyment through struggling in other areas of her life. She’s never understood how her painting could count as following Jesus.
Jamie’s concern about idolatry is understandable—it’s true that we must never serve “the things God created instead of the Creator himself” (Romans 1:25). It’s also understandable that this sensitive woman wonders whether her struggles count as carrying a “cross.” But she’s missing something important—that her love for art is her Father’s good gift to her. As Paul puts it, although we should never put our trust in earthly things, and be “generous” and “ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18), we also believe that God “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Do you feel the tension? Although believers in Jesus should be willing to “give up our own way” (Matthew 16:24) to follow Him, we aren’t masochists. Because “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17), there’s nothing wrong with enjoying delicious meals, soaring music, or a good story. There may be something wrong if we don’t. If we greet every pleasure with suspicion, wondering how it might tempt us to sin, we can’t enjoy it fully as God intends.
Like a good parent, God wants us to love Him more than His gifts. But He also wants us to fully enjoy His gifts. What brings joy in your life? Receive it as a sign of your Father’s love.
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”