At first glance, our proverb for today can seem counter-intuitive: Pleasure, wine, oil...sure sounds like the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Who wouldn't love a life full of these things? So we might be tempted to assume then that pleasure, wine, and oil, in and of themselves must be bad, and in order to follow God, we must renounce them completely.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-28) Yikes! How can the same Jesus who teaches us to love even our enemies, then call us to hate everyone who is close to us, even our own lives in order to follow him? These teachings take some wisdom to apply.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
Jesus teaches us to check our heart and check our priorities. Just as our proverb for today does. What is our FIRST love, our first priority? If we chase after pleasure, make drinking our top priority or wealth our focus in life, we cannot make Jesus our Lord. He doesn't come in second. He is to be our primary focus, above all things, even things we may hold quite dear.
God MAY call us to choose hardship over safety and relaxation. To not pursue our own pleasure or financial security but to instead serve him and others. He may call us to leave our families behind, even give up this mortal existence in service to him. He may also allow us times of rest, happiness, prosperity, and send others to help us in our time of need.
The point is, we cannot make having or not having any of these things our focus. We must keep our focus on Jesus and serve Him in any way he calls us to. If we love anything more than God, we will not be rich. And if we live a hedonistic lifestyle we'll likely end up broken in this life as well.
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, shared this wise counsel with the Church, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
The things of this world should not be the chief desire of our heart. There is no room in God's kingdom for competing priorities. As Jesus succinctly summarized his teaching about worrying about material things, " But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) Follow Jesus. Everything else you need will be given to you along the way.