Analysing Everything To Death And Sucking The Joy Out Of Life

Analysing Everything To Death And Sucking The Joy Out Of Life

Indeed, when it comes to analysing everything to death, Paul is quite clear in that section: ‘eat everything that is sold in the meat market, without raising questions for the sake of conscience, since the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.’ His answer seems to actively shy away from analysing everything to death and instead towards just getting on with your life. Paul is saying it is okay to just enjoy stuff and not suck the joy out of life by analysing everything to death.

Christians are pretty expert at sucking the joy out of everything. You name it, we can find problems with it. Even if we can’t nail a specific issue to make you feel guilty for enjoying something, you can bet we’ll insist on a full introspective analysis of motives before you can even consider enjoying the thing. Then, if you do determine to enjoy it and go on to do so, you better make sure you don’t enjoy it too much!

We seem to often have a problem with joy. Even Lloyd-Jones’ book – Joy Unspeakable – features a picture of him looking miserable as sin on the back of it. In every way, that book title is a misnomer. How can you write a book about something which is apparently unspeakable? How can you then speak about that unspeakable joy next to a picture of you with a face like a wet weekend? That isn’t to knock the book at all; just to illustrate the fact we can have something of a problem with joy. If it is unspeakable, we are often certain it’s unshowable and, let’s be honest, potentially unreal.

A lot of this instinct comes out at Christmas. The festive period is fine, so long as we don’t enjoy it too much. Or, enjoying it is fine, but we have to analyse it to death before we can confidently just enjoy it. Anything we may think, say or do have to be pored over before we can legitimately enjoy anything. That isn’t to say we should never be introspective, aware of potential sin, and keen to honour the Lord in what we say, think or do, it’s just I don’t think analysing everything to death in the pursuit of that leads to the evident joy Jesus came to bring. Indeed, it is something of a joy-killer.

Someone will inevitably say, ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ That surely warrants some introspection and consideration about ‘whatever you do’. Doesn’t that warrant asking whether this actually brings glory to God? Whilst I think that question is valid, it seems to miss the wider context into which Paul made that comment. Paul’s concern seems to be about not giving or taking offence. You have no need to judge another before the Lord and try your best not to do what is going to cause offence. The solution he comes to is to neither rule out or in the eating of meat offered to idols (the question under consideration). He essentially says, ‘whatever you do’ i.e. eat or don’t eat, do it with a clean conscience and try not to give or take offence over it.

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