Sometimes when I read the scriptures there will be one word that just seems to jump out at me. Usually it offers a deeper layer of insight or illumination that I had not previously had. I had that experience a couple of days ago while reading this section of the Bible. I read the RSV and the word that hit me was in Verse 34, which says, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare.” The word that struck me in this section was “dissipation.”
What is Dissipation?
Oddly enough when I went to other versions of the Bible I discovered that many had used different words to translate this Greek word, which by the way appears in the Bible only once. KJV translate as “surfeity,” NIV use “carousing,” Good News Bible is “feasting,” Amplified says, “giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence,” Wycliffe Bible uses “gluttony,” and J.B.Phillips like the RSV uses “dissipation.”
So there are many words that have been translated from this one Greek word, and I think you get the idea what they were trying to convey. Dissipation is about excess of what this world calls “the good life.” It could include hedonism also, which basically is according to Dictionary.com, “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good,” or “devotion to pleasure as a way of life.”
Wastefulness of Dissipation
But there is more to this word that is not immediately apparent, and that is the outcome of this dissipation activity. Dissipation is the wasteful use of things through misuse. It is extravagance in a wasteful manner. It is about using resources that you may have, not for good but to waste them for the sake of pleasure.
Dissipation in our Times
Dissipation is probably a good word to describe many of the things happening in the world today. Think about western society and the pursuit of capitalism. Most people in the world are seeking money for the purpose of buying “stuff.” They fill their lives with “stuff” that they don’t really need and thus waste their resources on things that will not last.
Cars, houses, boats, fancy clothing, expensive jewellery and so on are the trappings of our society and the striving for these things is wasteful. The striving to climb the corporate ladder also is wasteful and often hurtful. At the bottom of an organisation there may be hundreds if not thousands of people striving to reach the top, but there is only one CEO. Many people will be disappointed, depressed and upset when they realise they will not get that job.
But even worse than any of those things is the dissipation that exists in the lives of Christians. One of the great and scarce resources we all have today is time. How do we spend our time? Do we do the bible study we need to do or sit and watch re-runs of TV shows that are meaningless and banal? Do we find the time for prayer or decide to spend it reading fiction or trying to get an extra forty winks of sleep?
Not that I’m saying we cannot do other things, but what are our priorities when it comes to the Lord. Is it to seek His truth and His ways or to waste our time in dissipation.
The time is short and we do not know when our time will be up. Now is the only time we have to prepare for the coming of the Lord and to make ready for the Kingdom of God. Spend it wisely and not in dissipation activities.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Zsolt Zatrok Dr.)