In these days of soft-soap Christianity and the feel-good-do-it society, I've noticed that people reach for that pleasure factor in worshiping our Lord God Almighty. Have you noticed that?
I think there is nothing wrong with going to God for the pure pleasure of it. In fact it gives great pleasure to believers to go into the Throne Room to worship and bring praises to God our creator and our deliverer. But just as Solomon found out there is a limit to how pleasure pleases the mind and the body (Ecclesiastes 2) It becomes empty.
It is exactly like marrying a woman for her body… eventually a person gets exhausted of nothing but pleasure and it then comes to a point where there is no more satisfaction in the pleasure act and cravings begin to develop for something more than just pleasure. We are created that way–different aspects and facets to the same jewel.
I think pursuit of pleasure as a motivation to serve does seem a bit selfish. It is the same as the end justifying the means which is wrong thinking. Our motivation should be a deep desire to please and not so much focused on our own pleasure, although that is a great benefit.
After all to obey is better than sacrifice and to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 14:22
Who can I speak to and give such a warning [and bear witness] that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, [ = unresponsive to God] so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the LORD has become contemptible to them— they find no pleasure in it. Jeremiah 6:10
The one who loves pleasure will become a poor man; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich. Proverbs 21:17
God searches the hearts of men all over the world, but the hearts of those that serve Him are of the most special interest to Him. If God finds a self-serving motive–such as pleasure seeking– how true is that Believer's heart? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the fat of rams?
And here is where I have the problem with the pleasure-motivated service to God. Where does the personal agenda cease and the neck bend, the will submit to God's will and His agenda?
Jesus for the sake of the joy ahead… that was to come, endured the cross. How hard that struggle was for Jesus knew the torture and pain yet He willingly set His face toward it. He looked past the shame to the joy, (notice it the word in that Scripture is not happiness) beyond the cross.
So… with that in mind, how enduring is a pleasure-based motive to serve God? When the trials and troubles come, does the pleasure motive have roots deep enough to withstand the storm?
Since God is love and His gift to His children is His enduring love that a love-based motive is stronger and more enduring, and longer-lasting than the pleasure-based motive. Here is the thing, if a person does good deeds simply because it makes them feel good, does that diminish the good deed's worth? Perhaps in the sight of God it does, perhaps not to the person receiving the good deed.
Seeking to enjoy God for the pure pleasure of His company and the pure pleasure it brings is very okay! That is the fun time, that is the dancing time and it is enjoying Him that gives strength for the other times that are not so enjoyable when He calls us to sacrifice for Him.
Sacrifice is all about Him and none of self. It is all about obedience and none of selfish desire. Since God searches the hearts of man, Jeremiah 17:10 I, Jehovah, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. Therefore, pleasure is a poor motivator for the things of the heart that would please God. He promises that if we delight in Him, then He will give you your heart's desires.
Does that mean that our desires are given to us, or does it mean that He puts desires in our hearts? I think I would prefer that He put His own desires in my heart, then I know I would delight in Him and delight Him. How great that is… putting a smile on God's face! To please Him brings great pleasure, but that kind of pleasure is much more pleasant. It doesn't depend upon another person, or even upon one's self. It just bubbles up and pours all over us like a the spring in a well-watered garden. Isaiah 58.