Actions Speak Louder than Words

I was on my way to being an alcoholic! Yes, maybe not one that you would have noticed, but one that needed alcohol to function. I was about 20 or so. I was in a job that I enjoyed, but it didn’t suit my personality. I was in constant stress. My hair would fall out in clumps, and quite often I had to take a leave from work because my coping mechanisms weren’t working very well. So, to help myself relax and to settle down enough to go to sleep, I would drink a few. I told myself it didn’t matter, it’s not like it was a sin. Right? After all, many of my friends drank…some of them quite openly.

It was only a few years before this that I had been told by someone that I respected and looked up to, a christian, that I needed to drink a bit…I was too uptight, and they would love to see me drunk for once. This individual was a friend. I figured that what they said must be true. I am uptight. And if this person, who was an example in my life, drank on a daily basis, why can’t I? They had a strong faith in Christ, and it didn’t seem to detract from that. So, sure enough…I started to drink. It was usually in private, in my own space. I didn’t hide it…but I didn’t really take it out in public. There were days that I would joke about it with a few of my friends, and not one told me to be careful.

They didn’t know what it could do to me.

There came an evening. I was shaking with stress. I just needed to drink something to calm me down. Good thing I had a stash in my room. At that moment, I had a flashback to an experience from my teens. Someone I loved was drunk, and crying to me about how Jesus can’t possibly love them…they weren’t worthy. Life for them was one drinking binge after another. I connected the dots. If I wasn’t careful, that could be me.

I’m not saying that drinking is a sin. It’s not. But being someone who causes another to stumble, hurts that person, could even cost him eternal life. And it certainly hurts God. I am grateful that I had that voice inside of me that stopped me, and because I wasn’t the kind that really succumbed to peer pressure, I didn’t go further.

For those of you that get mad at the drinking subject…think about it, why? Is it sensitive because there is a small voice inside of you telling you to be careful? Have you noticed when others drink excessively when they are around you? Is it your influence? Do you post pics of drinking and bottles on social media? Do you joke about drinking when you’re around others?

Is there other behavior that you engage in that could cause someone to stumble? Examine your heart. I notice when I have influenced someone that looks up to me. It’s a hard place to be, and it doesn’t have to be alcohol. In the Bible Paul talks about food being a problem. Eating meat that was offered to idols was permissible, but it caused some to stumble…so he cautions the Christians to be careful. We are the light that others look up to…whether they are our fellow christians, or our co-workers. The list is long. We can be the light, or we can be the dimmer.

“But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track. For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.” (1 Corinthians 8:7-13 MSG)

This is a long passage…but it says it all.