Working With Addiction (1) “Learning To Listen”

Working With Addiction (1) “Learning To Listen”

The Bible has some powerful things to say about addictions

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.“They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” (Proverbs 23:29-35)

Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11)

Sometimes that’s what life feels like for those trapped by the snare of alcohol and drugs.  They make promises to themselves that they are not going to do “it” again. They make the promise that they are going to change the way they think and feel and yet somehow they just keep finding themselves going back to the same old, same old. How true is this even for those who don’t battle with these particular issues, yet we war against some “familiar” sins in our own lives? To some extent, we’re all addicts of one form or another. When we see the heroin addict begging on the street or the drunk staggering down the road, we do well to remember that we are just like them in more ways than we care to imagine. The man who battles looking at porn on his laptop, the woman who just won’t stop gossiping, the gambler, the shopper, the self-righteous, the pharisee, the antinomian. All stand in line with the idolatry of addiction in the battle for control of our hearts and minds. But something else connects every human on the planet, whatever their current life situation.

We are all listeners. We all listen every single moment of the day. The big question is,

‘What we are listening to?’

The Bible says that there are generally two voices trying to win our attention in our lives.

1. Folly

Folly offers us the quick fix solution to life’s problems. This voice offers us a quick way out of our troubles. A quick way to make cash, a quick fix, a quick drink, a quick fumble and plenty of friends who will encourage us in the path we are taking. The problem with this voice is that it doesn’t tell us that all these promises it makes to us will eventually kill us. Folly tells us we can have everything now. A drink to take the edge off, one more to relax a bit more, one more and another and another and another. Folly always leads us to take more, more and more.

2. Wisdom

The other voice that wants our attention is wisdom. Think of it like two little people sat on your shoulder. One is folly and the other is wisdom. Folly always wins because it seems the more fun, the most attractive and the easiest. Folly is cool and hip and trendy. Only squares follow wisdom. Wisdom seems boring. Slow and steady. Taking time with decisions, thinking things through. But the Bible tells us that wisdom brings life.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2)

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

If we really want to change our lives and get out of the cycle of destruction many are in, then our job is to begin to train ourselves to listen out for wisdom, to seek it and to learn to love it. But how do we do that?

Where can we get good wisdom?

The only place we can get perfect wisdom is from the Bible. That is His word to mankind and if we listen to it then we will benefit enormously. The problem is that many of those we are trying to reach have no clue how to use the Bible, where to look and how to get started.  The voice of folly has already told them that this is a waste of time.

What’s the Bible got to with it? Don’t be starting with all the religious mumbo jumbo, it’s a load of old crap.

So, we need to open up the Bible for people in a way that shows them its relevance. When I start with my opening verses, it always gets the attention because people don’t expect it. And yet, it marries completely with their life experience. We must show people that their problem is actually a “worship” problem. Ask them two simple questions.

1. What is the number one thing you think about when you get out of bed in the morning?

2. What do you spend most of your day trying to achieve?

The answers to those questions allow (chemical) addicts, particularly, to see that not only are they listening to folly but they are worshipping an idol. It has control over their lives. It is the thing they desire above all other considerations in their life. They used to be its master but now it masters them.

Ask them what their plan of escape is. Addicts (like the rest of us) always lie to themselves.

“I am getting of this crap tomorrow”. “I am going to rehab” “I’ve had enough of this.”

All lies. What is required is radical surgery. What is required is to learn how to fear the voice of folly and run from it. But they can’t do that, can they? Not only are they trapped in their addiction but they are blind to the truth of the gospel. They are dead in their sins. We must pray for the God of mercy to open their eyes to the truth.

I’ve never met an addict who didn’t walk away from this basic lesson remembering the words, “wisdom and folly”. It is a great starting point when seeking to share Christ with someone.

Part 2 to follow.