Are we SELF-INDULGENT – focused only on OUR own COMFORTS? "Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria...woe to you who put far off the day of doom, who cause the seat of violence to come near; who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." (Amos 6:1, 3-6)
The middle of the eighth century B.C. was a time of great economic prosperity for both Judah and Israel. Zion refers to Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah, while Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Like his contemporaries Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah, Amos was given prophecies that addressed both the southern and northern kingdoms of Judah and Israel (Hos. 6:4–11; Mic. 1:5).
During the time of Amos, both Judah and Israel had enjoyed about a generation span of military might and economic prosperity. Those who were at ease in Zion and those who trusted in Mount Samaria were one of a kind. It therefore became natural for officials in Jerusalem and Samaria to regard themselves as notable persons, and it was the boast of Israel’s elite that no other nation was greater than they were. In fact, they considered themselves the chief nation because of their newly acquired power and wealth!
Thus, the people of both Judah and Israel were guilty of complacency born of false confidence and spiritual insensitivity (vv. 1–2), trusting their military leaders and not Jehovah God. The people were also guilty of self-indulgence and unconcern for hurting poor of their land (vv. 3–8). The people of Zion mistook God’s favor for favoritism, feeling that God certainly would never punish them because they were His chosen. The people of Samaria felt that even if judgment were to come, they would be delivered because of the mountains that surrounded them like a natural fortress. Thus, they were complacent because of their wealth and exalted position!
God’s reaction to their attitude of ease, complacency and self-indulgence was: “I abhor the pride of Jacob, and hate his palaces” (v. 8). God condemned them for being consumed with their own personal wealth while much of the nation suffered great poverty and hardship because of injustice and corruption. These individuals were so absorbed in their own luxury that they did not grieve over “the affliction of Joseph” (Israel’s social, moral, and political collapse). Therefore, Samaria would be “among the first to go into exile” and would be delivered to the Assyrians shortly!
Let us note that material possessions by themselves are not evil, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (see 1 Tim. 6:9–10; James 5:1–6). Amos’s rebuke was not based upon the acquisition of ivory, the abundance of food, nor the accompaniment of music. However, the wealthy people of Israel were so engrossed in their own privileges and luxuries that they cared nothing for the affliction of their fellow Israelites, though it was their transgressions that had caused it. Their self-indulgence had completely deadened their sensitivity to their Jehovah!
Let’s ask ourselves this question: are we self-indulgent, that is, focused only on our own comforts? Is our lifestyle focused on only on our own pleasure and convenience? Is our lifestyle designed to make ourselves feel good and satisfying our own desires, with little thought of the needs of others or the values and concerns of God? Is the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt. 13:22) strangling our spiritual life so that we are ineffective for the work of God? Are we good stewards of God’s resources?
Let’s remember that God rejects both complacency and self-indulgence! We should not depend on our past achievements of spiritual experience to guarantee success in the future. We should not be idle, lazy and self-indulgent in our daily living. Instead, we should be zealous for the things of God, and reject any attitude of spiritual elitism. We should exercise control in our appetites, practice temperance in all things, be unselfish, and allow the zeal and selfless love of Jesus Christ to characterize our life every day.