The Believer’s Delight in God

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 07/11/2019

In his classic Morning and Evening devotional, Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892) describes the believer’s delight in God—an idea that can sound curiously strange to non-believers. Here’s an updated version of Spurgeon’s June 14th morning entry, edited by Alistair Begg (you can read the original here):

The life of the believer is described as a delight in God, and we are reminded of the great fact that genuine faith overflows with happiness and joy.

Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either because of what they might get or because they are afraid of the consequences of neglect. The thought of delight in religious exercise is so strange to most men that no two words in their language stand further apart than holiness and delight.

But believers who know Christ understand that delight and faith are so wonderfully united that the gates of hell cannot manage to separate them. Those who love God with all their hearts find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. The saints discover in Christ such joy, such overflowing delight, such blessedness that far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him even though the whole world rejected Him. We do not fear God because of any compulsion; our faith is no shackle, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.

This is not to say our fickle feelings of happiness will never waver as Christians (see here), nor that we’ll never experience suffering (see here), but merely to describe our understanding of who He is—our apprehension of Him as someone to be desired, the epitome of goodness, truth, and beauty—even when our subjective experience of desire fluctuates. We see Him as the place where joy is found, and we know Him as the source of joy. We have known His comfort in times of intense grief. We’ve experienced the trustworthiness of His wisdom and love His ways, even when following Him brings difficulties.

But as Spurgeon notes above, those who have not known God don’t see Him this way. I’ve written before that “[t]he biggest gulf between Christians and atheists…is not the question of God’s existence, but the apprehension of His beauty and goodness” (see also here and here). And whichever side of that divide you’re on, the other side likely seems incomprehensible to you.

Christian ambassadors, please keep this in mind. Cultivate your love for God, describe Him as He is to others, and pray that the Holy Spirit will “[shine] in [their] hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).