READING: Proverbs 22-23
I admit my bias here as I write this devotion. I’ve seen alcohol destroy lives completely, and I’ve seen it come close to destroying others were it not for God’s intervening grace. Just this week, believers have learned of another large church pastor whose use of alcohol has now cost him his ministry. His words about the influence of alcohol in his life reveal much about why he turned in that direction: “I ran to it rather than to Jesus for my comfort.” Apparently, what he “ran to” eventually grabbed ahold of him, and now he’s seeking treatment for his drinking.
I’m aware that the Bible never fully condemns alcohol use. On the other hand, it clearly warns of the power and danger of using alcohol. The writer of Proverbs vividly describes what alcohol can do to a person; in fact, he warns against even gazing at drink because of the long-term results:
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it does down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, laying on top of the rigging. “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me up, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” (Prod 23:29-35).
Alcohol is simply powerful. The one who gazes at wine, who loves it when it goes down smoothly, and who lingers at it forgets that “in the end it bites like a snake.” It causes sorrow and complaining. It leads to numbness — literally, when the body feels little but bears the bruises of falling and fights under alcohol’s influence. Those who linger there have bloodshot eyes, see things, and are unstable. Then, they start going after more drinks again when they awaken in the morning. The process of idolatry of a drink that brings only pain thus begins again.
From where I sit, the risk of the danger trumps the perceived fun that drinking might bring. Alcohol — even one drink, in my opinion — just isn’t worth it.
- Pray for someone you know whose life has been influenced negatively by alcohol, including the pastor described in the devotion.
- Focus on two or three students and young adults in your church, and pray for them by name. Ask God to keep them from the destructive power of alcohol.
PRAYER: “Father, keep me from the danger of alcohol. Protect me and my family.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 24-26