What Addiction Looks Like
He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:6
Addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol. Whenever I talk to those who struggle with gambling or those who overeat – despite painful consequences – I find that the parallels between their behavior and mine are striking. The details may be different, but the diseased thinking and the self-destructive actions that follow are eerily similar.
In today’s passage, we’re given a glimpse into Judas’ sad tale of money addiction. In the story, we’re told that Judas objected to Mary’s use of an expensive ointment to anoint Jesus feet. He claimed that his protest was on moral grounds, “We could have used that money to feed the poor”. In reality though, he just wanted the money in the disciple’s treasury where he had access to steal it.
Judas loved money. This was where he temporarily found some sense of joy, happiness, and meaning, and so, he pursued riches above all. Whatever he got his hands on though, it was never enough. The pleasure always ran out as he developed a constant hunger for more. Once, he followed and believed in Christ, but eventually, his addiction caused him to turn his back on his faith. He tried desperately to maintain the secret, but as his hunger spiraled out of control, he took greater and greater risks. First, he probably just stole a little from the disciple’s treasury, but eventually he betrayed Christ for a bag of silver. He set out chasing something he desired, but in the end, that thing controlled and destroyed him.
This is what addiction looks like, whether it involves money, drugs, pornography, gambling, food, or even pride. We pursue something we think we want, until it comes to control and destroy us – physically, spiritually, or both.
If we wish to avoid Judas’ fate, then we must be honest about our own struggles. What appetite do I pursue despite knowing the destructive consequences? What behavior do I indulge in even though it makes me and my loved ones miserable? Once we identify that behavior, we must do whatever it takes to abandon it to follow God, because he is the only adequate solution to the hole we’ve been trying to fill with our addiction.