What Is It Like to Enjoy God?

Article by

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

The enjoyment of God is the enjoyment of a Person — not just the enjoyment of a thing, or an idea, or a pattern of actions, or a mysterious force. The ultimate joy of God’s creatures is joy in a Person — joy in God.

This is exactly why Jesus died. The apostle Peter says, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). To God. The Person. What makes eternal life desirable is not just that it lasts forever, but that it is knowing and enjoying an infinitely satisfying Person. And he is also a Person who, in his human nature, died so that he could be known and enjoyed.

Enjoy the Person

But how do we come to know the Person? We come to know him by his actions, his ideas revealed in his word — things that he has made as pointers and foretastes of himself.

“The first and greatest commandment is that we love God. And the essence of loving God is that we delight in God.”

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). We know the love of the Person by the action of the Person. We know the power of the Person by the action of his creation of the universe (Romans 1:18–20). We know the wisdom of the Person by his purposeful providence in history (Romans 11:33–36). We know the justice and righteousness of the Person by the punishment of sin in the death of Jesus (Romans 3:24–26). We know the faithfulness of the Person by the keeping of his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). We know the compassion and patience of the Person because we know Jesus Christ who said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

So as you meditate on the perfect work of your God, let Scripture compel you to enjoy the Person:

  • Rejoice in the Lord always. (Philippians 4:4)
  • Delight yourself in the Lord. (Psalm 37:4)
  • Be glad in the Lord. (Psalm 32:11)
  • In your presence there is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
  • The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup. (Psalm 16:5)
  • As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1–2)
  • I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. (Psalm 143:6)
  • We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:11).

Enjoy His Gifts

And the same is true with things and human experiences. God gives them to us to reveal more of his character, essence, and unsurpassed worth.

We know something of the sweetness of his friendship because we have tasted honey. We know something of his sustaining richness because we have eaten rich bread. We know something of the refreshment of his fellowship because we have drunk water when we are thirsty. We know something of the personal depths and exquisite intensity of person-to-person pleasure because we have felt sexual desire. We know something of the warmth of his affection because we remember being held securely by our mother. And we know something of his worth because we have coveted gold. Even our sins witness to his worth.

“Joy is not optional. Delight is not peripheral. Satisfaction is not secondary.”

One of the best pointers and tastes of the experience of enjoying God as a Person is the enjoyment of the human persons we know, not just their gifts. So, when you have some quiet moments, think of the kindest person you know, the most loving person, the wisest person, the most patient person, the most intelligent person, the strongest person, the most tenderhearted person, the happiest person, the most peaceful person, the most optimistic person, the meekest person, the most courageous person, the most articulate person, the person with the best sense of humor, and the most generous person. Think about what it is like to enjoy these persons when their personalities are at their best.

Then combine all the good traits of all those persons into one person. And then increase those traits to perfection in quality, and to infinite beauty in how they are proportioned and exercised. And then let all the enjoyment of all those persons for all those personal excellencies, heightened to perfection, give you some hint of what it will be like to enjoy God fully. And then pray that the Holy Spirit would grant this miracle to happen.

Delight Is Our Duty

The first and greatest commandment is that we love God. And the essence of loving God is that we delight in God — that we enjoy God, that we find God to be our all-satisfying treasure, our gold.

Loving God is not first working for God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He did not say, “Loving me is keeping my commandments.” He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love is first. Commandment-keeping follows. Doing is fruit. Loving is root. This is why Jesus put the heart first in this highest duty: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” The heart is not the organ of performance. It is the organ of preference. It’s not the organ of doing for God. It’s the organ of delighting in God. Therefore, the great and first commandment is: Delight yourself in the Lord!

Joy in God is our first obligation and delighting in God is our highest duty. The second greatest commandment — to love people — is the overflow of the first (2 Corinthians 8:1–2). Joy in God is the essence of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and joy in God is the wellspring of loving your neighbor as yourself.

“Enjoying God is our first and greatest duty.”

God has made it plain to us that we exist to magnify his incomparable beauty and worth. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). But in order to glorify God from your heart, you must delight in him above all else. Joy is not optional. Delight is not peripheral. Satisfaction is not secondary. They are the root of all Christ-exalting love for people, and all Christ-exalting worship of God.

Enjoying God is our first and greatest duty.