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Indulgence is Not a Worthy ‘Reward’

22 Jul

Ethel Mae woke up in the middle of the night and decided to get a drink of water. 

But on the way to the refrigerator, she passed the candy dish and grabbed a butterscotch candy. Then on the way to the cupboard for a glass, she opened the snack drawer and grabbed a Hostess Twinkie. Then she took her glass over to the refrigerator to get some chilled water and stopped off at the cookie jar for some peanut butter cookiesFinally, she picked up the pitcher and poured herself some water. And grabbed the leftover pie on the top shelf before she shut the refrigerator door.

After munching on her treats, she headed back to bed and crawled under the covers; but she accidentally woke up her husband, Harry, who said he felt thirsty. 

“I’ll get it!” Ethel Mae said … getting up with a big smile. 

I can’t say I’ve had a middle-of-the-night food binge like that, but when I went on a food program to get healthy and lose weight, I soon realized how indulgent I can be.

John Bloom at DesiringGod.org says, “We are all self-indulgers. The whole lot of us. Let’s just admit it upfront and help each other fight!”

Indulgence is foolish and selfish.

And sinful!

When we indulge rather than fight or abstain from “the passions of the flesh,” we’re only inviting more problems.

[I’m not talking about the planned-for dessert or a well-chosen and hopefully healthy occasional “treat.” There’s a difference related to motive.]

We know indulgence when we see it. Indulgence puts a damper on our desire to please the Lord and is contrary to wisely stewarding our bodies.

Indulgence can be heinous, but it can be subtle too. It can even be a form of idolatry. The enemy of our soul can even deceive us into believing indulgence is a good thing… a REWARD.

What? A reward?

Yes, I discovered this trickery while deep into my healthy eating plan. I proudly marked off a week of staying “on program” and said to myself,

You deserve a treat!”

So I started with an extra “allowable” food bar (which is really a candy bar dressed up in protein).

  • Then a few animal crackers.
  • Then a brownie.
  • Then an ice cream sandwich.

Soon, I was totally out of control.

I was living out what my nutritionist says,

“You have the disease of ‘MORE!'”

It’s a “heart” disease, and escalating indulgence is one of the clues I have it.

We need to be careful when we equate “deserving” with indulging. Indulgence—too much of a good thing—can be a first step on a fresh journey away from self-control. 

That’s how subtle this form of idolatry is. The thing we indulge in—in my case, sugar or overly-starchy foods—can become a driving “master” in our lives; we can find our indulgence addictive and destructive.

Our emotions can trick us.

Bloom says, “At the moment of indulging, it doesn’t feel like an enemy. It feels like a reward that makes us happy. … But after indulging, defeat hangs like a heavy yoke around the neck of our souls.”

I thought indulgence was my “reward” for obedience and wise choices. But that was a lie—a false promise built on a false premise.

My reward should have been the joy found in pleasing the Lord.

Rather than the joy of fulfilling a temporary craving, I should have focused on eternal truths like the one found in Luke 9:23-25:

… “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

The truth is, indulgence should not be part of my life in ANY form—pride and self-glory, greed, gluttony or any lust of the flesh.

I should be “awake and have control,” not be sleepy and indulgent!

My body is God’s dwelling place, and I am set apart for the praise of His glory.

Being “set apart” is being sanctified and holy, and those words are incongruous with the word “indulgent.”

But I have to confess. Sometimes it’s just plain hard not to indulge.

That’s when I need an eternal focus. I must remember my real reward is the “prize” awaiting me from the Lord at His return.

As Jesus said in Revelation 22:12: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”

And His reward will be a lot more satisfying than a middle-of-the-night food spree.

Do you struggle with indulging in sinful attitudes and behaviors? What is the lie you are believing, or the false promise you’re embracing? 

 – Dawn

Graphic courtesy of cohdra-Morguefile

 

 

The Secret to Banishing the Worst Wrinkles

1 May

Wrinkles are adorable on butterball babies, but they cease to look cute as we get older.

That’s why I like to wear big necklaces. As Olympic champion figure skater and film star Sonja Henie once said, “Jewelry JewelryAndWrinkles_LOLtakes people’s minds off your wrinkles.”

Talk to people in Hollywood and you’ll get all sorts of opinions about wrinkles. Some hate them and go for Botox. Others are content that they add edginess and character, inviting scripts with substance—weightier acting roles.

Personally, I’ve made peace with my wrinkles, especially my smile lines. As a friend told me, “It’s important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle!”

But that’s only one kind of wrinkle, found on the face or body.

There are wrinkles in clothing. Years ago, every wrinkle had to be ironed out; but today, wrinkled clothes aren’t just Bohemian, they’re “casual chic.”

We also talk about “a wrinkle” in relation to our work, or when projects go awry. To “throw a wrinkle” is to cause a potential but easily-overcome problem. And then, when the problem is solved, we say we’ve “ironed out the wrinkle.”

Another kind of wrinkle is found in the soul. For example:

  • General Douglas MacArthur said, “Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.”
  • Poet and humanitarian Samuel Ullman said, “Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

But I think the worst wrinkle of all happens in the spirit.

In Ephesians 5:25b-27, we discover Jesus will make his Bride a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle….” Stain and wrinkle in this passage means a defect in beauty, freshness of life or holiness. Paul told the Ephesian church, someday we will stand beautiful and “faultless” before the Lord.

This will be the Church in glory forever!

Matthew Henry said, “The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now shall be glorified hereafter.” *

Right now, although we are declared righteous in our position because of what Jesus did for us and our trust in Him, we’re far from faultless as far as our daily sinful choices. This is why we confess our sins—we agree with the Father that they are an affront to Him and that’s why Jesus had to die in our stead (1 John 1:7-9). We admit our sinfulness and celebrate our forgiveness.

Jesus is preparing His bride and interceding for her (Romans 8:34).

Jesus prays for us because He desires a shining, holiness-adorned Bride, a reflection of His love and grace.

Jesus is our “righteousness, sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, HCSB). He is making us pure and holy— “sanctifying” us day by day (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:14). This is the Father’s will for us (Hebrews 10:10).

The Lord will “sanctify you through and through” so you will be blameless (spotless, without wrinkle) when the Lord returns! (1 Thessalonians 5:23) The “secret” remedy for banishing spiritual wrinkles is becoming more like Jesus!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a “wrinkled” Bride when the Bridegroom comes!

What wrinkles in your spirit does God’s Holy Spirit want to deal with today?

* Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Eph. 5:22-33,

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/ephesians/5-27.htm

– Dawn

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