Drunk at an AA Meeting
Romans 2:21-24 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? …The name of God is blasphemed… because of you.
I have been to recovery meetings where one of the attendees was clearly drunk. The intoxicated is often the one most loudly proclaiming the benefits of recovery and sobriety. In his clouded thinking, he hopes he can fool everyone into believing the lie. He may be spewing forth truth and may, in fact, believe what he is saying, but the message is lost in the gross hypocrisy of his condition.
This is the problem Paul addressed in today’s passage. You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? It is terrible hypocrisy for a man to sit in judgment of another’s sin, pretending to be godly, while doing the same thing himself. This, Paul said, is why the world curses God.
At our local sober, transitional home last night for a bible study, I asked the guys about this. Why does hypocrisy offend us so? They insisted that it was profoundly arrogant for me to claim the authority to judge another for sinful behavior while engaging in sin myself. I lose any credibility or authority when I claim moral high ground but then prove myself to be a fraud.
They had multiple stories of hypocrisy. One had family members who insisted that he stop drinking while continuing to drink themselves. Another had taken great offense at the addictive behavior of another while high himself. Their painful stories reminded me of my own hypocrisy. During my own relapse, a fellow struggler reached out to me for help. I half-heartedly pointed him in the direction of God but I could not follow through as I was on a downward spiral myself. I wanted to help as it would have made me feel better, but I was torn by the feeling of profound hypocrisy. I was that drunk at the AA meeting, trying to cover my guilt by telling another how to do it.
If I am honest, I can see that I am the most critical of other’s faults when I am wallowing the most in my own defects. It is a defect itself, to be consumed with the shortcomings of others. If I find myself obsessed with the failures of those around me, I likely have a colossal me-problem. I am living enslaved to my own tremendous pride.
One of the guys rightly pointed out that the more he grows to know God and himself, the less confident he is in judging others. As we come to understand what Christ has done for us, we grow more interested in sharing him than in being judgmental. As we are broken ourselves, it is only in humility that we can speak into the lives of others. As Paul pointed out, we will never be qualified to judge our neighbor as we will never be perfect ourselves.
This does not mean though, that there is not a time and a place to identify and confront destructive behavior. As some of the guys pointed out, many of us were not willing to change until we were confronted with the severe consequences of our own addiction. If though, we would presume to help those around us find God and sobriety, we need to make sure we know God and sobriety ourselves. Then, in humility, we can tell others what Christ has done for us.