"Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."
Are you an epicure? Do you live a hedonistic lifestyle? Do you even know what these words mean? An epicure is one who is devoted to pleasure, particularly the pleasure of eating food. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure as the chief purpose in life. This belief and practice is warned against in this proverb. Devoting your life to pleasure in a luxurious and self indulgent lifestyle will have grave consequences.
It is not pleasure that is the problem. It is when pleasure becomes our idol. We live to seek and find pleasure. It is our chief goal. We love pleasure more than God. We seek pleasure in food, alcohol, leisure, shopping, sex, and entertainment simply to obtain pleasure rather than to use these things to honour God. A hedonistic lifestyle makes our selfish desire the god. Seeking pleasure is done to satisfy the god Self. In the unregenerate heart and world this is normal. But even Christians can slip into this practice. From time to time, we seek pleasure before God's will and kingdom. It may become a pattern of life which becomes normal. Jesus warns us about the pleasures of this world in the parable of the sower. In that parable the thorns that choked out the seed are "the care and riches and pleasures of life." Luke 8:14 This warning from Proverbs is especially important for us who live in a wealthy culture that is devoted to whatever makes us happy.
Wine and oil are used to represent a hedonistic lifestyle. Wine or oil are not bad in and of themselves. This we can see from verse 20 of chapter 21. There we learn that a wise man has in his house precious treasure and oil. Through self control and the wise management of his wealth he has prospered. So having wine and oil can be a sign of wisdom and blessing. It is the over indulgence and lack of self control in the use of these two items that is the problem. Using wine and oil to find joy and pleasure is wrong. I think we understand why wine is mentioned here, but what about oil. Oil had various purpose. It was used as a food. Oil was used as a cosmetic to keep the skin and hair looking good. Perfumes and incense were made of oil as well. These uses give us an idea why oil is included here. Wine and oil would be often be used in abundance at parties and feasts.
The warning in this proverb is that those who pursue this idol of pleasure will became poor. This lifestyle will result in poverty. And poverty will result in the end of their hedonistic lifestyle, since they have no money to buy what gives them pleasure. Isn't this what we see in our culture. So many people are in debt or are bankrupt because they bought all they wanted without restraint. The pleasure of sin is fleeting. They are as a mist that disappears quickly. When the mist of pleasure is gone, we are left with the consequences that are often tragic. And we have not even talked about the judgment to come after death for the sins of the love of pleasure. Take heed to this warning from God. Don't be a lover of pleasure but a lover of God. 2 Tim 3:4. Learn from Solomon: the pursuit of pleasure is vanity. Eccles 2:1-2
Seeking pleasure for the goal of pleasure will not bring us true pleasure. True pleasure is found in seeking and loving God, righteousness and wisdom. David says this in Psalm 16:11, "You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." The way of holiness is a way of true joy. God wants us to have true joy and pleasure. It is found in Him alone. Though Jesus Christ we can enjoy the fellowship with God that will result in true joy and pleasure. Don't live like a Hedonistic Epicure.