Read: Proverbs 23
Key Verses: Proverbs 23:29-35. “Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?”
Devotional: The use of alcohol and drinking is one of those topics that is either avoided or not fully addressed in many Christian circles. Folks who care to have the discussion generally find themselves on one of two sides of the fence. 1) Complete abstinence or 2) Occasional use (not drunkenness - more on that in a minute). We tend to shy away from honest discussion because it ruffles feathers. Those who stand on the side of complete abstinence can get frustrated with those who are proponents of occasional use and write them off as drunks and those who stand on the side of occasional use get aggravated with those who are proponents of complete abstinence and tend to write them off as legalistic do-gooders.
Regardless of where you find yourself let’s push pause for a minute and unite ourselves around a shared belief: The Scripture is clear on drunkenness: Listen to Paul in Galatians 5:19-21, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” I don’t see a lot of room for interpretation there. Drunkenness is a sin.
I’ve had lots of conversations over the years on this topic and have yet to have anyone who is seriously pursuing God try to talk me out of that idea. Let’s agree on that baseline fact as we continue our discussion.
All throughout my study of the book of Proverbs I have continued to be intrigued by the practicality of the words I’ve read. The heart of Proverbs as stated in the beginning Proverbs 1 says, “…Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives…”
Don’t forget that Solomon wrote the Proverbs as a legacy to be left for his heirs. These were to literally serve as the very words that his children and his children’s children would remember from their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. When I read Proverbs 23 I can almost hear Solomon’s prayer and feel his father’s heart that beats for the success of his children. It’s as if he is writing from experience. He’s seen first hand the ramifications from those who have allowed alcohol to dominate their lives. He’s seen the wasted potential, the wasted time and the dead-end roads that the use of unchecked alcohol leads to. Here again, as from the beginning of His writing Solomon urges those he influences to wade cautiously and with clear thinking into this potentially disastrous series of choices.
Long before I became a full-time pastor I chose to live a life of abstinence when it comes to alcohol. For me it’s about practicality. I’ve got an addictive personality. It’s why I can’t have just one brownie. For me, one would lead to two and three and on down the line. Living my life for Christ comes with a whole series of struggles and the use of alcohol would only add to those struggles. My heart’s greatest desire is to live a life that would bring glory to God and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of that.
At the end of our lives, each of us will be remembered for something. How we loved. How we lived. How we spent our money. What we stood for. Who we stood for.
What’s interesting and often disappointing to me are the countless people who bring such a high level of passion to the table on this topic. It’s as if some people want to be remembered for their ability to argue their right to drink, others want to be remembered for their stance on abstinence from alcohol. At the end of my life I want to be remembered for my love for God and for those around me. I want to be remembered as someone who passionately followed Jesus Christ and stood for what broke His heart.
What I hear clearly in Proverbs 23 is that drinking, although not condemned, is indeed a slippery slope. Solomon refers to is as something that, “… in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.” We’ll each need to pray through this topic and hear from God on where He wants us to land and what He wants us to be remembered for.
Take Action: What’s your stance on the use of alcohol? Have you clearly established a hardline on drunkenness? Have you allowed “your right to drink” to outweigh the negative ramifications of your drinking? Beginning with the end in mind, “What do you want to be remembered for at the end of your life?” Does drinking or not drinking feed that end goal?
Jump in on our