Over the years I have been involved in quite a few counseling, coaching, and mentoring discussions. They covered a variety of issues. Some turned out well, and some didn’t. I want to share one of those with you. I received a call from a church friend wanting to meet for coffee. He said he was going through some things and needed to talk. We agreed to meet the following evening.
I knew enough of his background to have an idea of where the discussion was headed, and indeed it went that way pretty fast. He told me he loved to smoke pot but that it was causing him some problems. He quickly added that he was not addicted and didn’t want to be judged about it because the Bible did not say it was wrong.
I told him it was not my place to judge, but also that I had no intention of condoning something I thought was harmful. Then I asked about the problems it was causing. He mentioned three:
1. He said he lived in constant fear he would fail a drug test at work and lose his job just like happened at a prior job.
2. He said it was causing strife in his marriage and family as his wife and daughter would just “go crazy” about it.
3. He said, with tears, that because of his habit the church had removed him from a ministry he loved.
At that point, every ounce of me wanted to scream “What’s wrong with you!” But I had agreed to no judgment, so I asked if I could grab my Bible to refer to as we talked. Out of that discussion came four biblically based points that have consistently proven helpful in discussions about habitual and addictive behaviors.
While it might seem it is none of our employer’s business what we do on our own time, that is only partially true. If a habitual or addictive behavior impacts our work, it is their business. They would not spend money on drug tests unless they thought such behavior impacted safety and performance. The biblical basis for obedience to the rules and policies of our employers proves we cannot honor God while disobeying our employers.
“Slaves (employees) obey your earthly masters (employers) in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.” (Colossians 3:22)
A habitual or addictive behavior that causes harm to others is wrong no matter how innocent it may seem. There is no such behavior that does not impact someone. I have seen more marriages and families destroyed over alcohol and drug abuse than I care to remember. There is great pain for a family member to know that alcohol or drugs are more important to a loved one than they are. It is a hurt that is incredibly hard to heal. It is not possible to fully honor the commandment of Jesus to love others while allowing a habit to hurt them.
“A new command I give you; Love one another.” (John 13;34)
We are entrusted by God with stewardship over our health. Any behavior that knowingly harms our body is a violation of that trust. We are all made in God’s image and when we dishonor that image with harmful substances, we dishonor God. If it harms our health it also hurts those who love us.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, and is given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
God does not love us any less because of our habits or addictions. We do not forfeit the salvation that is available to us by God’s grace activated by our faith in Christ. So we should never turn away from Christ in embarrassment or guilt. Instead we should turn to Him and seek the relationship that can help us with these issues. Your friends at Lifeword.org are available to help with that.
However, habitual or addictive issues do indicate a problem in our spiritual life. If Jesus were to walk up and directly tell us to stop a particular habitual or addictive behavior, could we, or would we, be able to do it? When I asked my friend that question, I again saw tears in his eyes as he responded, “no but Jesus has not told me to do that”. I asked him if he was sure about that as I read this verse:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
All this sounds really great unless you are the one trapped in a habit or addiction that seems beyond your ability to overcome. It may very well be impossible for you to overcome on your own, but we have a God who specializes in doing the impossible if we first believe and trust in Him.
I have seen drug, alcohol, and tobacco addicts miraculously freed from their addictions instantaneously. My wife struggled hopelessly to quit a tobacco addiction many times over forty years, but God instantly took away that addiction one night during prayer at a church small group study–all desires gone and no withdrawal issues. Nothing but divine deliverance.
Certainly that doesn’t always happen. Breaking an addiction can be a difficult process, but with God’s help, it is possible.
“For I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Like my friend, if you recognize a problem in your life, seek a godly person to talk to and share with them. If you are fortunate enough to not have these struggles, be willing to listen. In either case, seek Jesus first and foremost.