Kill the Addiction or It Kills You
And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5
In residency, I learned this satirical maxim: Everyone quits smoking eventually. It was a sardonic acceptance of the reality that the smoker either kills the habit or the habit eventually kills the smoker. I was unaware of my own propensity for addiction at the time, so it was much easier to look down on those who engaged in such self-destructive behavior.
In today’s passage, Judas learned the painful lesson that I had yet to learn. His addiction was money, and in money he indulged until it consumed him. He wanted to follow Christ, but he couldn’t give up his pursuit of gold and silver. In his addiction, he betrayed Christ to his death. Once he realized the consequences of his actions, he couldn’t live with what he’d done and he hanged himself. Perhaps there could have been redemption for Judas – if he’d gone to Christ and asked forgiveness – but his addiction killed him before that could happen.
This is the inherent flaw of our flesh nature – it continually seeks to destroy us, physically and spiritually. It wasn’t until years after residency, that I came face to face with my own reality – that I had a profound life problem that was going to destroy me and everyone I loved. The only option I had was to do whatever it took to abandon it to follow Christ. If I didn’t kill my addiction, it was going to kill me. The death may not have been instantaneous, but in my addiction, I was destroying everything I held dear: family, faith, health, and career.
Though we may not all suffer from a propensity for drug or alcohol addiction, we all find ourselves in a similar condition. We all have a flesh nature that seeks to turn us from God, towards ourselves, thereby pursuing our own spiritual demise. By indulging in our pride, lust, greed, gluttony, anger, and selfishness, we become enslaved to ourselves, committing spiritual suicide. It is only in following Christ’s command to daily deny self and follow him, that we find true life, faith, joy, purpose, and freedom.
Daily then, we have this choice. We can do whatever it takes to find life in following Christ and killing our destructive nature – or we can watch it slowly kill us.