For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8

In learning addiction medicine, I’ve participated in several continuing medical education courses, some of which have been online meetings. During one such meeting a few months ago, I had to do a presentation, during which I used the word “addict”. I was quickly corrected by the facilitator – We don’t use that word anymore. I get it. The “A-word” is seen by many as pejorative and, in medicine, we’re not supposed to use derogatory terms to define the patient.

I’m not criticizing or defending the term here. I honestly don’t use it much in writing anymore. I’m simply saying that the term has been used in the past because it so well defines the life of the one addicted to chemicals. With addiction, the alcohol or the drug consumes the entire life of those who’re enslaved. Their existence become defined by disease and so, in certain contexts, we refer to them as addicts, because their addiction dominates their lives and behaviors.

What does any of this have to do with today’s passage? My point is that we’re known to others by whatever it is that is most obvious about us. In clinic, I’m a Physician. At home, I’m a husband or father. In a recovery meeting, I’m an addict living in recovery. At one point though, when my name was in the paper for my disaster, I was simply known to everyone as an addict. Derogatory or not, that was the behavior that defined my life. Now, in recovery, a very different set of behaviors defines me.

So often we think that, as Christians, we can simply believe a thing in our minds, and then we’ll be transformed. I believe, so I’m a Christian. Paul though, said that our lives will be shaped and defined by our actions. Faith is belief translated into behavior. If we live for our own nature, seeking our own will, we will reap corruption eventually – no matter what we claim to believe. If, however, we daily sow the seeds of the Spirit-life, then we’ll grow a life worth living.

What does that mean – to sow the Spirit-life? For me, it means daily reading, praying, and pointing myself at God’s will instead of my own. It means continually recognizing and abandoning my self-destructive behaviors to seek my relationship with God. It means making a genuine attempt to love those around me. I still fail. I’m not perfect. Today though, I’m profoundly thankful that my life is no longer defined by my addictive, self-destructive behaviors.

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