3 Ways to Avoid Self-Indulgence This Holiday Season

piles of Christmas presents stacked on top of each other

3 Ways to Avoid Self-Indulgence This Holiday Season

God isn’t asking for perfection, but instead, affection for Him over our indulgences.

When looking up the definition of self-indulgence, I came across various meanings - some of which sounded rather nice. For example, one dictionary defined it as the act of allowing yourself to have or do the things that you enjoy very much.

I smiled when I read it, thinking of the many things I enjoy doing very much, such as eating chocolate, taking naps, and taking advantage of one-click shopping. But that’s the thing about self-indulgence. It seems fun on the surface, but almost always leads to regret.

The Biblical truth about indulgence is that it feeds our flesh. As Paul said to the Galatians, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16-17 ESV)

While most of us battle self-indulgence at various times - especially around the holidays - there are ways to avoid it. Here are 3 things to help you this holiday season:

1. Make a plan you can keep.

Perhaps you’ve heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin that says, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This simple statement applies to many areas of life and can definitely be attributed to self-indulgence. For in failing to plan for your weaknesses, it’s likely you’ll succumb to them. 

The problem is, many of us make plans for ourselves that are too strict or impossible to keep. We think it has to be all or nothing, which usually leads to giving up. Instead, try making a holiday plan you can keep. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be doable.

Here are a few ideas:

If overspending is an issue…

  • Give yourself a weekly allowance and don’t feel guilty when you spend it.
  • Sleep on it for a night before you buy. Chances are, you won’t want it as badly the next day.
  • Pray and ask God to give you a way out, including borrowing the item from a friend or realizing you simply don’t need it.

If overeating is a problem…

  • Fill a basket with nutritious options for times when you want junk food or dessert. 
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and wait it out. This often diminishes the urge to indulge!
  • Choose another enjoyable activity such as drawing, playing games on your phone, or taking a walk.

Whatever your area of self-indulgence, plan for it in a way that is easy to keep. Don’t try to exert more willpower in hopes you will be able to overcome it. Form a simple plan and keep it front and center as you navigate this holiday season. 

2. Pray it out.

Once you have a simple plan in place, be prepared for the enemy to come calling. After all, he doesn’t want you to succeed! 

Each time you feel pulled towards self-indulgence, take a grown-up time out and pray for strength. This might mean excusing yourself from the holiday gathering to go to the bathroom and pray. It might mean spending a few minutes in your car, asking God for help before going inside.

The Bible reminds us in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” (NLT) The key is to take a moment to actually commit your actions to God and wait for His guidance. So often, we pray for help but immediately move forward in the flesh. 

Here are a few simple prayers you can pray when you’re tempted to self-indulge:

  • “Lord, my flesh feels so strong, but by Your Spirit, I can walk away. Please give me strength!”
  • “Lord, You promise to give a way out of temptation. Please show me the way out.”
  • “Lord, in the name of Your Son, Jesus, the enemy has to flee. I pray for strength in the name of Jesus now.”

Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” What a wonderful verse to remember as you pray yourself out of self-indulgence!

3. Follow the Holy Spirit.

Remember, as you plan and pray, don’t forget to ask God for strength from His Spirit. Make listening to His voice your number one priority when it comes to temptation. Then, as you move forward in His guidance, ask for the perseverance to follow. 

I love what 1 Chronicles 16:11 says, “Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.” 

Look to the Lord and His strength. Your willpower can only take you so far before it runs out of steam. God’s power, however, is unlimited and lives in us by His Spirit.

When struggling to follow the Holy Spirit, keep these things in mind:

  • His peace will always be more enjoyable than the indulgence itself.
  • God isn’t asking for perfection, but instead, affection for Him over our indulgences.
  • The Lord is faithful and just to forgive - every single time! (1 John 1:9)

The Scriptures tell us in Matthew 7:11 that God loves to give good gifts to His children. This means we can be assured that when we ask for help, He will help us! 

Living a life free from self-indulgence is difficult, especially in today’s culture of one-click shopping and fast food on every corner. But it is possible to avoid it this holiday season. 

Take a few minutes to create a plan you can keep, commit it to the Lord, and ask for a way out of every temptation. Then, go and have yourself a merry little Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Photo Credit: Pexels/freestocks/org

Jennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayerand is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesnt Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

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