Sure, I’m Sober . . .
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
When I first sought recovery, I stopped using drugs – for a while. Then, I decided I could indulge occasionally. I’d use only for a couple of days and then return for to abstinence for a few weeks. If anyone asked, I’d say that yes, I was living in recovery. But I wasn’t. I said one thing with my words, but my actions proved something very different. For a while though, I was able to hide my behavior. Of course, those occasional using days gradually grew greater in number as my abstinent days grew fewer. Eventually, I was back using full time. Then, as I my addiction was discovered, the reality of my behavior was exposed. I wasn’t sober at all. My claims of recovery were empty lies. My actions proved exactly what I was – addicted.
In recovery now, the challenge is to daily make my actions align with that which I claim to believe. Recovery isn’t just about not using drugs. Recovery is about turning my entire will over to God, allowing him to direct the course of my life. Do I simply say I’m a Christian, following Christ? Or do I truly live it? It’s far easier to claim something than to actually do it.
In today’s passage, John hammered home the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11). He emphasized Christ’s second greatest commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). As Christ loved us and died for us, we must be willing to love those around us. We won’t likely be called to die for our neighbor, but we must be willing to love them, not simply with our words, but with our actions.
It was easy for me to say I was living in recovery. It was far more difficult to actually do it. Similarly, it’s easy to say I’m a Christian. It’s far more difficult to live like it – actually loving those around me. When God puts those in need in my life, do I respond by meeting that need? Or, do I simply wish them well and go on my way? According to John, how I respond to the needs of those around me, proves whether I truly follow Christ or whether I’m simply full of empty words.