Many Christians today struggle to enjoy life. They are taught a version of Christianity whereby they are to be so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. This of course isn’t the vision of the Christian life that the Bible teaches. The Bible presents the vision of the Christian life as one whereby we fill our heart, mind, and affections with heaven which enables His people to be of earthly good. This is why many Christians today also struggle with knowing God’s will. They overemphasize the “otherness of God” to the neglect of His constant presence. On the one hand you might have one theological truth but what is often missed is how that theological truth relates to the other whole of the Christian truth. One of the reasons for this is because of our news cycle. Our 24/7 news cycle focuses so much on one story that we often miss that there are other stories out there. It’s not even that that they overemphasize one story to the neglect of others but often times they zero in on one story that it seems as if there is nothing else going on in the news when in fact there is. This is but one example of how we as Christians can do the same—namely to zero in on one doctrine that we miss out on how that doctrine relates to the whole of Christian truth.
Joe Rigney wrote The Things of Earth Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts so Christian readers could learn what God expects of His people. Many Christians are burdened by false standards, impossible expectations, and misguided notions of holiness. When John Piper writes a forward to your book and says this is the book he wished he would have written on this subject, and how he was instructed by your book that’s something worth taking notice of. This books steers a middle course between idolatry on the one hand and ingratitude on the other. This is a much needed book that will help readers to be God-centered. It reminds us that good gifts are from the Father’s hand, that God’s blessings should drive us to generosity and worship, and that a passion for God’s glory is as wide as the world.
I echo what John Piper has said, “This book has been very helpful to me. I mean that personally. I think I will by a better father and husband and friend and leader because of it.” I started reading John Piper’s work as a teenager. I’m now thirty-four years old. For over twenty years, Piper’s articles, sermons, and books have played a huge role in my doctrinal and theological development. Now, Rigney’s book has helped me to see how Christian hedonism fits in with enjoying life. This isn’t a small thing. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy life. We can so easily become so focused on God that we forget to enjoy God’s creation around us. It’s a subtle but significant thing here. Enjoying the good gifts from God wasn’t deemphasized by Piper. His was a call to not waste our life on worldly things. What has been needed is a corrective balance to that message though—namely, to count the cost and follow Jesus in all of life. To give your life over to serving God and stop flittering away your life. That message is important. But so is the message to go out and enjoy your ordinary life by God’s grace.
I’m one of those who needed the message of this book. This is a book I plan on re-reading slowly and digesting again. Even though I’ve been a Christian my entire life I can become so focused on everything going on ministry wise that I forget to look up from what I’m doing and enjoy life. It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with my wife, I do. But I need to take a time out from the life of the mind and pouring out my heart, and enjoy life. Life wasn’t meant to be a continuous pouring out so we never get poured in and enjoy it. It’s so easy to become so God-centered that we forget to enjoy the everyday tasks of life. Men are called to love their children and wives with the love of God. This requires that we fill our heart and mind with the Word of God by being heavenly minded while at the same time actually being of earthly good. Being filled with a vision of heaven leads to being of earthly good. This is the balance Joe offers in this book, and he does is excellently.
I highly recommend The Things of the Earth. Whether you’re like me and struggle to take time to enjoy life while filling your heart and mind with the things of God, or you aren’t, this book has something for you. This book is good for the person in the pew who works a 9-5 job on up to the scholar who spends his time filling his heart and mind with the Word of God. Wherever you are across the spiritual growth spectrum this book will help you find a balance between being so focused on heaven that you are of no earthly good. Likewise it will help those who are so focused on being of earthly good that you never spend time filling your heart and mind with the Word of God. This excellent book is a needed corrective and will help readers to be heavenly minded for the purpose of being of earthly good, and help those who are so focused on earthly circumstances and situations that they never take time to fill their heart and mind with heavenly things.