A Thousand Little Deaths
But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. Romans 6:21
Addiction, tragically, can and does sometimes lead to overdose and death. I once thought that this physical death was what Paul referred to in today’s passage. Though death by overdose is dreadful, I’ve come to realize that the addict much more often inflicts, not a physical death, but rather, a thousand little deaths upon himself and his loved ones.
In pursuit of my addiction, I once nearly killed my career, my spiritual life, and my marriage. In my self-destructive behavior, I put drugs above all, sacrificing all of those things that were supposed to be most important to me. I shattered my wife’s trust. I nearly ruined us financially. I embarrassed myself and my family, and I had to leave my job.
In today’s passage, Paul posed this question, But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? Rhetorically, he asked what it was that we’ve received in return for following our self-destructive pursuits. Answering his own question, he said, The end of those things is death. Paul knew what I’ve learned the hard way. When we turn from God to follow ourselves, we invite a thousand little deaths into our lives.
This isn’t only about drugs. When we live enslaved to pornography, we destroy trust with our spouses. When we explode in anger, we hurt our children. When we act pridefully and selfishly, we wreck relationships at work. Whenever we abandon God, following our own way, we introduce death, darkness, and destruction into our lives.
This isn’t just about those who don’t believe in Christ. I can claim faith in God, call myself a Christian, go to church, give money in the offering, and even help others, all the while, still pursuing those things which lead to the death. A tragic mistake that many Christians make is to believe that because they claim faith in Christ, that they’re unable to kill the most important things in their lives.
We can be saved eternally and still cause massive destruction here on Earth. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. When we abandon ourselves, following God’s path, we can know and experience the blessed life for which we were made.