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Leprosy, Numbness, and Addiction

Leprosy, Numbness, and Addiction

And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a case of leprous disease. Leviticus 13:3

At the jail recently, the guys were discussing how, in our addiction, we came to normalize terrible behavior. At first, when we drank, it was occasionally, or only on the weekends. Then, we drank on a couple weeknights. Soon, we were drinking every day. There was a time when we recognized that drinking on a Tuesday morning wasn’t good. Gradually though, as the chemicals consumed our lives, we numbed our conscience to the point where we weren’t offended by such behavior. We didn’t get there all at once, but rather, incrementally, with one small bad decision after another, which gradually blunted our ability to recognize bad behavior. Our conscience is supposed to protect us from such stupidity, but once it’s anesthetized, it can’t tell us to stop doing those things that will destroy us.

This is eerily similar to how leprosy destroys healthy tissue. Leprosy is the subject of today’s passage, in which God gave his people instructions regarding the disease. I’ve never seen leprosy, but apparently, it attacks the sensory nerves first, making the affected body parts go numb. Once anesthetized in the fingers, for example, the patient with leprosy will repeatedly damage his (or her) fingers to the point of destruction because he’s lost the ability to be offended by pain. Pain protects the fingers from repeated injury – If, you touch a hot stove you recoil. Not so however, for the one affected by leprosy. He touches the hot stove, can’t feel it, and so his pain receptors don’t tell him to stop, allowing his fingers to burn severely.

Most of us had some similar experience. We didn’t start out secretly watching pornography on our smartphones, but rather just indulged in lustful thoughts at first. Gradually though, we took incremental steps that eventually grew a porn addiction. We didn’t set out to gain 30 pounds, and we didn’t do so in a day, but ounce by ounce, our weight just gradually crept up. One day though, we looked at our lives and asked – How did it come to this? How did I get here?  

This is why the daily little decisions are so important. One step in the wrong direction may not be a big deal, but when we string together 365 days of wrong steps, we can cover a lot of self-destructive ground. Daily then, if we desire to know the lives for which we were made, we must purposefully point our lives at God, moving towards him instead of self. We may not put much thought into them, but our daily little decisions add up, directing the course of our entire lives.

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