What do I have in common with the construction worker, the suited business-man, the sun-baked landscaper, or the teenage kid on a skateboard? An addiction. How do I know? Well, we all meet at the same place each morning in search of something that will make us feel good.
Yep, it’s true. We all are buddies, holding the door for each other, standing in line at the register, exchanging quick glances as we wait to purchase our next fix.
The 7-11 addictions aren’t SO bad, on the list of addictive substances. Tobacco, chocolate donuts, cigarettes, Slurpies, and mine….Diet Pepsi. You may be thinking, “Well, actually some of those are pretty bad.” Yes, of course, but almost daily I experience the frantic call of the drug-addicted-mess-of-a-person at the orthopedic office where I work. The next fix is their only focus as they call over and over with increasing demands of the pain medication they want prescribed. Their entire day is focused on satisfying their need for money (possibly selling the drugs) or easing their perceived pain. We can spot them from a mile away, as their behavior and attitude towards us shifts dramatically whether we are willing to immediately meet their needs or most often, not.
Hmmm, does our behavior change when we don’t get that thing we desperately want? For me, when I don’t get my Diet Pepsi, I feel a little anxious, wondering when my caffeine headache will set in. I admit to a little feeling of desperation that my habit is disrupted, and then I talk myself off the ledge…I will be OK without the fizzy drink for the moment.
There are other addictions that make it much more difficult to back up from the ledge…illicit drugs, porn, alcohol, spending, vanity. Pride, acceptance, materialism.
Addiction is best defined as the “persistent habitual use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”
Do we have addictive behavior in our life? Another way to say that is, “Do we idolize something in a way that makes it more important than the people in our lives?”
“Webster’s Dictionary defines “idol” as “a person or thing too much-loved, admired, or honored.” The substance abuser seeks to please himself with his “god of choice” above pleasing God.” (The Heart of Addiction, p. ix)
Before we start looking around at others in our life who may be struggling with addiction and idolatry, we need to pause and look at ourselves. We may not be a drug addict tanking our lives and relationships in search of our next fix, but we may be “admiring” material possessions a little too much, or someone of the opposite sex who we think will make us happy if…. Maybe we honor fitting in more than pleasing God, so we spend money we don’t have on clothes or makeup or beautifying treatments. We love the drug of praise and will go to great lengths to get people to “like” us (Facebook). Some of us love working out to the point of obsessive vanity. The “substance,” whatever it is, controls us, drives us, and there is always a cost.
Mark Shaw, in his book “The Heart of Addiction” drives the point home that addiction and idolatry are a spiritual matter. When we sin in those areas it is because we have placed something before God in our lives. Let’s honestly take an inventory of the things that are important to us, and make sure they are not replacing the high importance God asks us to place on Him, alone. Our God is a jealous God, and we can’t forget that.
“The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.” Samuel 13:14
Are we seeking the heart of God? Or something else…
The good news is that God cares very much about what we seek in life and we can’t forget the Holy Spirit lives in us and can help us overcome our destructive addictions. God gives us power and strength to overcome that which seems to have an incredible hold over us. We can be victorious with His help–we can’t do it on our own!
- No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
“The Lord must perform spiritual heart surgery for every one of us so that our hearts of selfishness become transformed by the Holy Spirit to become hearts that seek and serve God.” Heart of Addiction, p.9
Let’s let God perform spiritual heart surgery on us, and move our selfish hearts toward Him alone.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain.” Psalm 119:36