Casting off the Burden of Self-Indulgence

Proverbs 18:1 NRSV
The one who lives alone is self-indulgent,
showing contempt for all who have sound judgment.

“Prayer opens a whole planet to a man’s activities. I can as really be touching hearts for God in far away India or China through prayer, as though I were there. Prayer puts us into direct dynamic touch with a world. A man may go aside today, and shut his door, and as really spend a half-hour in India — I am thinking of my words as I say them, it seems so much to say, and yet it is true — as really spend a half hour of his life in India for God as though he were there in person. Is that true ? If it be true, surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret service. No matter where you are you do more through your praying than through your personality.” ~ S. D. Gordon

There is living and then there is living. In other words, there is existing, having our physical bodies be in a certain space and time, and then there is the purpose and focus for our living where our thoughts and priorities dwell. One can live alone physically and be in touch with the world at large through prayer and focus and concern. And one can live in the midst of the largest metropolis and be solely centered on her own agenda and concerns.

The key is self-indulgence. Webster’s gives this definition:

    “Indulgence of one’s appetites, desires, or inclinations; — the opposite of self-restraint, and self-denial.” Word Net gives this: “an inability to resist the gratification of whims and desires.”

In other words, an addiction, a compulsion, something which drives us to do that which we know we shouldn’t do.

We measure whether or not we are “one who lives alone” by whether or not we are self-indulgent. And we discover whether or not we are self-indulgent by becoming self-aware, self-judging.

    But let a man examine himself, For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:28a, 31 NKJV

We need to critically look at what we do, what we say and judge whether or not it is sin.

Sin is much more than gross murder or adultery, though those things are sin.

    Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. Galatians 5:19-21 NRSV

We may not commit fornication, but are we jealous of those around us? We may not practice witchcraft and casting spells, but are we at odds (enmity) with others? Some sin is easily spotted; others hide in the shadows and have become socially acceptable, even among Christians. Self-indulgence allows us to continue to sin with seeming impunity and it isolates us from God. We live alone.

And it’s foolish to live alone. Whether or not we express it, we show contempt for those who are wise (sound judgment) when we embrace our self-indulgence. In fact, we often become defensive, insisting that there’s nothing wrong with us and nothing wrong with what we are doing (or becoming). Rather than confessing our sins to each other (James 5:16), we insist that we are righteous and further isolate ourselves from others.

We live alone.

S. D. Gordon wisely understood that the Christian is an active member of society, but not only of the local society. Intercessory prayer allows us to live integrated with those around us, even globally. But in order to effectively intercede for others, we must cast off the burden of self-indulgence and learn self-control, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice.