Back and forth, back and forth. I am trying to decide if I should write a BAD book review, or point you towards a good book. My negativity makes me want to rant and rave, but at the same time- I know God didn't design me to use my tongue (typing fingers) abusively.
So I guess I will try to find a happy middle. I will start by STRONGLY encouraging you NOT to bother reading Joyce Meyer's new book, "Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes". If you don't think the fact that the doctrine is false, the concept is selfish or the writing is mediocre are good enough reasons to choose a different book, consider this. The biggest concern with this book, like other self help literature, is it caters to the idea that "I" should be bigger than "We". In a moment, the idea of not beating yourself up for small pleasures is just. But an entire book that encourages you to look out for number 1? Soooo many other great reads out there.
The premise of the book is to start celebrating life and not feeling guilty for our mistakes. While I would agree that God never intended us to carry a burden of guilt as Christians (that's why He sent Jesus- to pay for our guilt), I wouldn't go so far as to say God intended for us to view Him as the greatest "Party Planner" as Ms. Meyer's states either. Or that guilt for sin does not serve a purpose- ask the teenager who is taking care of their self indulgent parent, or the family who is homeless because the primary bread winner couldn't say no to living outside their means. Indulgence has consequence for someone, even if it's not you. If God did not intend for us to feel the sting of guilt- our conscience that judges us- why is the New Testament full of verses telling us to "repent" and to live BETTER?
There is actually a chapter in the book titled "You Are Worth a Little Waste". In it, the author tries to use the story in Matthew 26 of Jesus being anointed with expensive perfume as an analogy of why it is OK to spoil ourselves once in awhile. Now I am ALL for spoiling, but please oh please don't misuse the Word of God to justify it. When I spend $100 on plants, or $30 on a pedicure- I WILL NOT try to say that was the best use of my funds and that God would be as pleased with my self indulgence as He would have been with my donation to an orphanage in Haiti. Seriously, don't try to make eating a cookie when your 50 pounds over weight a holy calling. :) This passage was specifically speaking about the SAVIOR of the World, and why that perfume was not wasted on Him. It was an offering to our Holy God, prior to His ultimate sacrifice to save us. "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. " Matthew 26:11 I know I am valued, chosen and adopted by God, and worthy to be loved- BECAUSE of Jesus, but I am not to be worshiped.
As an author on faith, Joyce Meyers has a responsibility to read, interpret and present Scripture in context and without distortion. (I won't get on my soap box about what I think of her ministry, but I so encourage you to protect your hearts, friends. Don't take anyone's word for it. Read the Good Book for yourself, pray for God's leading and discernment, and ALWAYS ALWAYS read it in context.)
Do what you want, but as you pass this book in Costco, Walmart or wherever,take a minute to thumb through it before you plunk your money down. As you read her story about indulging in a cookie because she "NEEDED" it, and getting irritated at her friend who tried to encourage her not to- the same friend she had asked to help her be accountable to her diet and exercise program they started together 4 weeks ago...ask yourself, "I totally get that, but is it really OK?" As a food addict, I understand comfort foods. I would never deny that I am a "Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes" kind of girl. But I will also NEVER say that is God's best design for my life. He doesn't want me to be a slave to anything, and self indulgence makes you a slave to yourself. Period.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it MY slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." 1Corinthians 9:24-27
That passage might not sound as pretty or feel as exciting as buying yourself some expensive perfume to "waste", but oh- the "prize" will be so worth it!
Now- if you still want a fun, quick read, can I point you towards "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper? Little book with a BIG punch. When I read this years ago, it was the first time I understood WHY seeking pleasure is naturally a part of who we are as humans. I LOVE the concept of Christian hedonism now, and Piper does a fantastic job of explaining why we have a "restless, inconsolable longing" within us. Wanting the "cookie", desiring the "shoes" is a pathetic attempt on our parts to fill the need that God placed in our hearts. The need for more of HIM. Self interest isn't the sin, but the way we choose to satisfy it can be. Statements like "The pursuit of pleasure is an essential motive of every good deed. If you aim to abandon the pursuit of full and lasting pleasure, you CANNOT love people or PLEASE God." (pg 39) YES. Chew on that for a bit, right? Good stuff.
Piper gets it right as he shows us Scripture upon Scripture of why we want pleasure, why we should look for pleasure, and how God designed us to enjoy pleasure. Beautifully written, doctrinally sound, and full of statements to put a smile on your face. Let this little book challenge and encourage you, in a way that the "Cookie" or pair of "Shoes" never could.
"Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." Saint Augustine
Celebrate your life, love! Enjoy the beauty and God Stops of every day, but don't let anything on earth become your master. Living for earthly pleasures will never touch the joy found in living for God's pleasure. God bless you today!