Letting the Little Things Slide
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always found it terribly hypocritical that a half hour into a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, the group will take a 10-minute smoke break. I’m certainly glad that they’re sober, and I think that’s the line of thinking. I may be smoking, but at least I’m not using drugs.
I’ve found it hypocritical, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not participated in similar behavior. I wasn’t a smoker. I chewed tobacco (disgusting – I know). In my early attempts at sobriety, as I gave up the pills, I refused to give up the tobacco. The problem for me – I can’t speak for others – was that as long as I indulged in a mind-altering chemical that I knew to be harmful, I kept the gateway open to going back to pills. In the end, I was never going to stay sober if I didn’t give up tobacco. So, I finally did.
Paul spoke to this phenomenon in today’s passage. In it, he discussed those gray areas in which there may not be an absolute right or wrong. For some people, drinking wine may be right and for some it may be wrong. Paul said that if you think one of those gray areas may be wrong for you, don’t try to justify it. If you think it might be wrong, then it is wrong and tolerating it will only hurt you.
This is exactly what I did back then. I continued to use tobacco, indulging in an unhealthy mood-altering chemical, which did irreparable psychologic damage to my recovery efforts. I was never going to truly recover as long as I continued using tobacco.
This of course, isn’t just about tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Whatever little thing we let slide, eventually condemns us, damaging our self-control and ability to say no. When we let the little things slide, we leave the door open to worse, more self-destructive behaviors. The challenge then, is to continually seek out those little gray things to which we cling. I don’t use drugs or tobacco anymore, but today I still have stuff I need to work on. If I let those little things go unchecked, they could take me back to the big bad things. Daily then, I must take inventory, surrendering even the little things to God.