Friday, June 24th
As for you, always be sober-minded… 2 Timothy 4:5
It would be convenient if Paul were speaking of alcohol or drugs here, but I think he was getting at something beyond literal intoxication. In the context, Paul is teaching that we need to strive for truth. To me, it seems that he is insisting on self-awareness and honesty.
Self-deception, by nature, is tough to recognize. I clearly remember knowing that I was lying to myself but accepting it anyway. I recall the specific lies. I can do what I want. God will forgive me tomorrow. There’s no harm in just one little indulgence. No one will know..
At our local jail (weekly bible study) I often hear those who have radically destroyed their lives say something like this, If had just avoided that one bad choice. If I had not used (drugs) just that one time…
Then, there are those who are painfully honest about their situation. I did not set out to rob a liquor store with a gun in hand. It started with small bad choices that I thought were harmless. I just started hanging out with people I should not have. I stopped talking to God. Soon I was using or drinking…
Those who are honest can look back and see how one little destructive indulgence led to another and another. The hole gets slowly, almost imperceptibly deeper, until one day, we look up and ask, How did I get here?
Those who are honest can look back and see the destruction that one little decision can cause. When we willfully choose to follow our flesh nature and turn from God, a bomb drops in our minds. I’ve been there. I thought I could do what I wanted just once and then return to God. The problem was, the next day, I did not want to talk to God. I had sown the seeds of my flesh and the profound (if not immediately obvious) consequence was that I had severed my communion with God.
God allows me to go my own way. He does not enslave us. Sin enslaves. The flesh enslaves. God doesn’t force us. He allows us to turn and go down our own road and find our own consequences. We may not end up in jail, but numbing ourselves to God is no less devastating.
So today, I will be sober-minded. I will ask God to show me what I am doing that distracts from my passion for him. I will accept that even the small, secret indulgence can have radical consequences.