A coffee here. A book there. Small indulgences creep into our lives quietly. Each of us hears a different call. You may head out for the latest gadget. Or cookies perhaps. Or a new game, or a hat. Whatever small indulgence tugs at your ear and captures your gaze, it still has the same affect: when you are low, or bored, or have time to waste, you hear it and obey.
I’ve been pondering my own “small” indulgences (see book commentary). I have rationalized them because they are small in terms of dollars and cents. But that only allows me to heed the call more often. In the course of a month, I may spend the same on coffee and books as someone else spends on their more costly frill. I used to justify it because of the low cost.
But price is not the only cost. Heeding the call of these small indulgences has also cost me something deep within.
Every time I give in to the call, I have weakened my resolve, my self-control, my independence. It’s like a cord is being tightened, binding me to my familiar jaunts, drawing me back again and again. And then I begin to incorporate it into my regular life, making the indulgence more of a habit. When the habit becomes routine, what then? I bet I’ll find a new indulgence. Soon, my whole life looks like one big self-soothing gala, as I move from one luxury to the next, slowly making the special into the mundane.
And so I turn to my Rock, the Lord Jesus who has truth and life in mind for me, even when I have been preoccupied with myself. In Paul’s letter to the believers at Ephesus, he said this:
“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:17–24, emphasis mine).
I had always figured “sensuality” to refer to something sexual, but upon doing a study of this word, even Webster’s has a much different definition:
relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite : FLESHLY
It is here I stand convicted, for my “small indulgences” are merely a regular gratification of the flesh.
This is the price paid for small indulgences. From this angle, it’s not so small anymore.