Paging through my daily copy of The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a half page BMW advertisement that I immediately detested. “JOY DOES NOT COMPROMISE!” it proclaimed, in bolded, size 84 font. And, just as biting into a handful of Jelly Belly jellybeans unleashes a torrent of bad-tasting sweetness when I accidentally eat one of those flavors I normally pick out and throw away, it took me a few seconds to assess the discord in my mind. I like BMWs, but I hate the ad.
Because I think joy DOES compromise! It is pleasure that does not.
Unfortunately, a retreat to the dictionary bears little fruit because the words joy, happiness, and pleasure are ostensibly interchangeable. Thus, they are used to define each other, though they are actually quite different. Think of your own connotations and this reality becomes clear: ‘Pleasure’ connotes sensual gratification and ephemeral feeling whereas ‘happiness’ is more of a lasting characterization. Joy is perhaps more temporary, but is more akin to great ‘happiness’ than ‘pleasure.’
I’m risking rhetoric here to get us all to the starting line. It’s from a well-defined perspective we must address this ad because its message so aptly characterizes the pervasive American thought process that has got our country in this horrific financial nightmare (with California leading the way)! This thinking so permeates our daily reality that we will miss its monstrous error if we don’t explicitly identify it.
Joy compromises! Joy, as it relates to happiness, is long-term and requires investment and sacrifice. Joy is not achieved or sustained by instant gratification. Joy is comprehensive in focus, and accounts for the needs of others as well as self. Joy is balanced. Ecclesiastes 2:26a ties joy to wisdom, indicating that God gives both to those he loves. More powerfully, our Ultimate Example chose to endure the Cross! For what? The joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2)! He gave up his temporal wishes for something much greater (Luke 22:42).
But pleasure does not compromise! Pleasure does whatever it wants. It’s short-term and shortsighted, and relates most often to instant gratification. Pleasure is also self-focused and easily self-centered. Pleasure is certainly not associated with discomfort or self-sacrifice; rather, it’s concerned with the here and now: “If it feels good, do it.” Think about it, this attitude is ubiquitous. Case in point: Don’t compromise – drive a BMW!
If the ad couldn’t get any more blatant in its errancy, it goes on to detail the financing options available. “Quick, everyone go to your nearest BMW dealership and instantly amass tens of thousands of dollars of debt to finance a major liability! Don’t compromise!”
That’s obviously not what the ad actually said, but it should have.
Gentlemen, this kind of thinking is foolishness! Our culture caters to it at every turn and worse, we have grown up bombarded by it in every media format.
Learn to recognize it – and avoid it!
Our future, the future of the people we love, and the future of our nation depend on us learning to exercise more wisdom and more discretion than our parents have in these matters. We can’t fall prey to this kind of stupidity.
In case my point still isn’t clear: Joy does not “deserve” a luxury automobile, and joy would not steer you into debt to get one. Joy compromises. The state of California, our nation, and our world can be attributed in large part to people’s misunderstanding of this truth.
Here’s the other side of the coin: The only thing joy doesn’t compromise is it’s willingness to compromise as directed by wisdom. Let’s apply this. If the car you can currently pay for is a used Honda Civic, that’s what you should be driving. It’s still a liability, but at least you’re not paying for both the car-related expenses and the debt you created to obtain it.
This lesson can be applied in many different situations, but my aim is to help us all recognize the thought process. Joy compromises, as directed by wisdom to do so.
So, eNgage! Be the wise men God has created you to be and compromise, as wisdom dictates you should. Though it won’t always lead you to pleasure, it will lead you to joy!
If you need help, turn to the Godly, wise man next to you and ask for it.