Proverbs 21:15-17

Doing justice brings joy to the righteous
and terror to those who do evil.
The one who wanders from the way of wisdom
will end up in the company of the departed.
The one who loves pleasure will be a poor person;
whoever loves wine and anointing oil will not be rich.

Diligence seems to be a lost art-form in today’s culture. Instead of diligence, it seems that personal pleasure has become the greatest motivator. We live for the weekend. We spend our time and energy building up resources so we can have fun on Friday & Saturday. We call Wednesday – hump day – because it’s the halfway point between our last pleasurable experience and our next one.

I think it would be safe to say, that our culture has become one that loves pleasure. In fact, if something doesn’t bring us pleasure we don’t do it. And we feel justified in not doing it. We think we deserve to be happy, therefore we shouldn’t have to work hard at anything we don’t want to work hard at. Or we think that we deserve the pleasure of the weekend because we worked hard at a job we don’t particularly like during the week.

Whatever our justification, pleasure has become the driving force and not diligence.

However, if we want to walk with the wise and find ourselves in the company of the living, then we need to be people who love diligence. “But, that’s not what the proverb says,” you might be saying to yourself. Sure, THIS proverb doesn’t say we are supposed to be diligence. However, because diligence is spoken of several other places, we can imply it here. But how can we make that jump? It is simple, what is the opposite of loving pleasure? What is the opposite of loving wine? It is to love being diligent.

When you love pleasure, all your ambitions become wrapped up in the pursuit of it. Your home life, your work life, your friends, your purchases, etc. Your home life becomes centered around the pleasure you derive from it. Your work life becomes about the pleasure you derive from it, or about how it allows you to seek pleasure outside of your job. You choose friends who want to do the same pleasurable activities as you do. You buy the things that allow you to live the pleasurable life you choose.

Then, when our home life isn’t giving us the pleasure we want, we cut and run. Or we make our families so miserable that they’ll wish we had. When our job isn’t providing for our pleasure, we start to complain and become disgruntled employees. I’m sure our bosses (who are passionate about the place we work) love hearing their employees constantly complain about their jobs. When our friends aren’t helping us find pleasure, we find new friends. When the stuff we haven’t doesn’t give us the pleasurable life we desire, we go into debt to buy new stuff.

What a shame. What a shame that the things we spend most of our lives doing are at the mercy of something as superficial and temporary as pleasure. What a shame that our life stories are centered around pleasure instead of things with real worth and value. What a shame that we’re miserable most of the time because we’re not doing whatever “pleasurable” activity we wish we were doing. What a shame.

We’ve got this gift of a life that we can do great things with. But instead of doing great things with our lives, we spend our lives pursuing pleasure. What if we sought do do great things with life? What if our pursuit was a life that matters instead of chasing the next high?