Friday, May 08, 2015

A life of balance

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Proverbs 23:15-25

TO CHEW ON: "Do not mix with winebibbers
or with gluttonous eaters of meat
For the drunkard and glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags." Proverbs 23:19-20

There are lots of reality shows these days that expose peoples obsessions and the fallout from them. I usually avoid them. Perhaps that's because I don't like to face what people are (I am) capable of.

The Bible speaks a lot about two common human obsessions: drunkenness and gluttony—problems we still face today, along with many others.

One of our newer obsessions is with our electronic devices. Go to any place people gather and you'll most likely see a lot of people interacting with their smart phones or tablets instead of the folks around them. Some experts have described this new phenomenon as an addiction.

Naturally not all addictions are equal. But we can learn from the Bible's warnings about excess in any form:

  • Amos describes how false trust leads to a preoccupation with satisfying oneself and losing sight of what's really important (Amos 6:1-6).
  • Isaiah talks about a habit of excess (in his case drinking wine) becoming an end in itself, stealing ambition and drive (Isaiah 56:12).
  • Isaiah also describes how drunkenness can make leaders ineffective by blurring vision and stumbling their judgment (Isaiah 28:7).
  • Proverbs describes how drunken son brings shame on parents (Proverbs 28:7). 
  • Jesus scolds the scribes and Pharisees for their obsession with living outwardly flawless lives while they neglect their inner thoughts and attitudes (Matthew 23:25).
  • He also warns against being "weighed down" with drunkenness (and the cares of life) and so being unprepared for His second coming (Luke 21:34).
  • The end of a life ruled by obsession is tragic. Further down in Proverbs 23, the writer lists the consequences of pursuing alcohol (which fit well with other addictions too) in a series of rhetorical questions: "Who has woe … sorrow … contentions … complaints … wounds without cause … redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine. Those who go in search of mixed wine" - Proverbs 23:29,30.
  • In His story of the prodigal son, Jesus depicts how a life driven by appetite is vulnerable (Luke 15:11-14).
  • Finally, Paul warns that some practices (drunkenness and revelry among them) will disqualify people from the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).

It's a sobering picture. I myself have experienced how the virtual world of Facebook, Twitter, email, blog comments etc. can hijack my attention, demand increasingly more of it, as it takes my focus away from what's really important.

How much better to be obsessed and full of the Holy Spirit, leading to all things life-giving and lasting (Ephesians 5:18)!

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to heed the Bible's warnings about unbalanced living and avoiding things that will enslave me. Amen.

MORE: Wise use of technology

In his book The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, author Tim Challies talks about the many aspects of technology and how it impacts modern life.  He says:

"Our task then, is not to avoid technology but to carefully evaluate it, redeem it, and ensure that we are using it with the right motives and for the right goals" - Tim Challies, The Next Story, Kindle Location 437.

If you are struggling with technology's hold on you, Challies' book would be a great one to read.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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