Posts Tagged pleasure

Balance Beam

Proverb 21: 17 – 18          NIV


He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Wow! That is a powerful statement. We have become very developed in seeking pleasure whether it is our TV time, our hobbies, food, drink, vacations, or any of a number of pleasures. There is a place for recreation, no doubt. There is a time for play and there is also a time for work. Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for everything (3:1). Solomon isn’t denying that in today’s proverb, after all, he was also the author of Ecclesiastes. The point I believe Solomon is trying to convey is that using our energy in seeking pleasure is a vain activity which leads, ultimately, to emptiness. We even work to fulfill our pleasures but there must be things of substance in this life and in this world which would give us much greater satisfaction that simply chasing pleasure.

Of course, the clear point that Solomon makes is that this seeking after pleasure will lead us to poverty and this is from the richest man to ever live upon the earth, even to this day. Solomon was so rich that he didn’t even bother with silver. I accept what Solomon suggests here but also speculate that the endless search for fulfillment in pleasure leads to an impoverished lifestyle. I mean to say that perhaps this person’s poverty does not see him living on the streets and begging at soup kitchens but that he is none the less very poor in spirit, in friends, in fulfillment, in rewarding relationships with his family, and a plethora of other ways.

The one pleasure that Solomon highlights in this passage is the desire for wine and oil. There are so many among us whose life seeps away at the bottom of a wine glass. Their ambition for more fruitful pursuits is swallowed up by the pleasure they seek in that glass. Time, which is such a valuable commodity, gets wasted when much good could have been done. All this pursuit buys is regret. We do not want this for our loved ones. Life is so meaningful but can we wasted so easily.

One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is that it is all about balance. You can work too much, play too much. Almost all things, even good things, can turn into negatives when we exercise them out of their proper balance. There are many nice and pleasurable things in our life and God gave us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17), but they can be overdone and then become detrimental to our lives. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10: 23). Perhaps this is the admonition which Solomon is giving us today, that is, to spend our time in fruitful pursuits. Let us not run the race seeking pleasures only because at the end of our days on earth we, ourselves, will say, “Vanity, vanity; it was all vanity.”