Don’t Let Your Soul Get “Stuck”

Posted: December 8, 2012 in augustine

In an article entitled “Why so serious?,” Barnabas Piper rightly extolls the virtue of rejoicing in earthly pleasures as good gifts from our good God:

“Joy in the Lord” is but a farce if there is no joy in the gifts that God puts in front of us. The joy we think we have is divested of its meaning when we dismiss or shun the pleasures that God has given us for our enjoyment. If God has chosen to lavish us with pleasures deep and wide, what kind of ingrates are we to refuse on the basis of wanting to find joy in Him instead? What an absurd notion.

I think the author is clearly on to something, rightly emphasizing the importance of rejoicing in God’s manifold blessings.

However, in the midst of this rejoicing, let us not forget the painful reality of indwelling sin.  In response to Piper’s liberating exhortation, Augustine offers us a complementary (not to be confused with complimentary) caution that we would do well to keep in mind:

‘O God of hosts, turn us and show us your face, and we shall be safe’ (Ps. 79:8).  For wherever the human soul turns itself, other than to you, it is fixed in sorrows, even if it is fixed upon beautiful things external to you and external to itself, which would nevertheless be nothing if they did not have their being from you. … Let these transient things be the ground on which my soul praises you (Ps. 145:2), ‘God creator of all’.  But let it not become stuck in them and glued to them with love through the physical senses. …

– Augustine, Confessions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4.15

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