Be Careful of Self-Indulgence
Key Verse to Read and Treasure
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:1, ESV)
Indulgence can be a dangerous thing.
Solomon was testing himself with sensual and aesthetic pleasures. He wanted to explore what life might be like for the gifted and advantaged. He discovered neither heart nor body tired of being indulged. Never tires of pleasures. Never tires of gratifying the sensual nature.
One of the things that happens with the human brain is how quickly it can adjust to pleasure and reprogram itself to expect pleasure all the time. This is the problem with doing anything in excess. The brain responds to pleasure and releases dopamine–which is not a bad thing—but too much dopamine can result in the brain’s checks and balance system shutting down. Resulting in having poor impulse control, and leading to conditions such as binge eating, gambling, alcoholism, sex and drug addictions, to name a few. Too much dopamine makes the brain think pleasure is the normal state and signals something is wrong when we are not participating in that activity that gives us pleasure. To experience that feeling of pleasure, over time we have to have more and more of that thing or activity. It’s easy to see how someone can end up on that slippery slope to addiction.
Testing our brains or hearts with pleasure is a dangerous thing. Indulging and overindulging is not only unhealthy, but also dangerous. There’s always the possibility that we won’t recognize or be able to return to what is normal. I watch the commercials and TV ads lately. So much appeals to the eye and sensual part of us. People living extravagant lifestyles, enjoying decadent desserts, traveling to exotic places. These can make us feel as though we are being deprived of something and that everyone except us is having a good time in life. Leave it to the world and our carnal nature and we would be indulging in pleasure all the time.
Thank God, he created the human body and brain with checks and balances. We might not know it, but we are programmed to accept disappointment and displeasure right alongside pleasure and success. We don’t need to feel pleasure or to indulge all the time to experience happiness and fulfillment.
In the end Solomon discovered even indulging and pleasure was tiring, vain and there was nothing lasting nor beneficial for the long-term. God wants us to know He takes pleasure in us and delights in us when we take pleasure in him.
Praying Ecclesiastes 2:1
Father, to be sure there are many pleasurable things in this world and life. So many things we can and do enjoy. However, it is not Your intention that we spend all our days and time seeking pleasure. Keep us from over doing anything and help us live a life of balance. Amen
Is there any “pleasure” you have a weakness for and tend to overdo?