Resource Highlight – The Things of Earth

The-Things-of-Earth-Treasuring-God-by-Enjoying-His-Gifts-Paperback-P9781433544736I’ve had this question for years and until recently had never received a good answer. Before I say what it is, let me ask a few questions…

Can a man love his wife without idolizing her? Can a mother love her children without making them into tiny screaming idols? Can we enjoy and be awestruck by nature, in all its’ beauty and splendor, without worshiping “the created rather than the creator”? Furthermore, can I enjoy a movie, band, game, joke, book, or piece of art (etc.) without being a worshiper of a manmade god?


I can safely assume your answer to all these questions is an emphatic “yes!” But I also know a few people that can tell me and show me from the Bible why and how.  My real question is, if I believe God is all satisfying (which I do), why do I seek satisfaction in things that aren’t God?

This question has put me through many mental-gymnastics sessions, and many short-lived commitments to only enjoy so-called “godly things”. Finally, after continually failing in these commitments and not being satisfied in those godly things, the outcome was always a sense of guilt. Guilty in being so sinful that reading the Bible didn’t replace the movies I enjoyed. Guilty because I desired a wife, and no matter how much time I spent alone with God, that desire never went away.

I lived with guilt, thinking, “Man, I’m terrible.” Of course, in general we are all terrible people and that is why we need Jesus, and the continual reminder of the gospel: that God loves us because He loves us, and not because we are awesome. However, the guilt I felt for not being satisfied the ways I thought I should be was disconcerting, and kept me from fully embracing and seeking the good gifts of God.

Recently I purchased a book called The Things of Earth: Treasuring God Through His Gifts. Through it, the author Joe Rigney has helped me think through this topic immensely. Rigney proposes that the things of earth are part of God’s communication of Himself to us. This includes not only nature and relationships, but manmade things as well, including art and movies. It is all working towards His glorification and our joy. If that sounded familiar, it is probably because he lived in John Piper’s basement for several years and considers himself, like Piper, to be a Christian Hedonist.

There is a lot I haven’t mentioned in my very short summary of the ideas Rigney commends in the book, but he takes time walking through many tough and seemingly contradictory verses and thoughts found in scripture regarding the enjoyment, use, and misuse of the things of earth. This is probably why I love this book so much; because it answered all of my questions. Whenever I thought “Yes, but what about…?” the next chapter or paragraph tended to respond not with some witty expression, but truths found in Scripture.

While the book is a little heady at first, I think Rigney does a good job of explaining these relevant topics. He makes it feel like not only a book of information, but one that seeks to increase our joy in our God and Savior.

Bruce Acosta

Posted on: March 31, 2015 - 10:12AM

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