Acceptable Addictions

This entry is part 99 of 115 in the series Holiness Matters
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I haven’t met a person who doesn’t struggle with some kind of addiction. Psychologists and counselors tell us if a person has an addiction it doesn’t go away. They talk about management, not setting people free.

It doesn’t help that several of our proclivities and addictions go unchecked by our society and the world at large. They don’t see some of the addictions we harbor as evil or immoral. Everybody’s doing them, so they must not be that bad. After all, society isn’t flying off the rails because of these addictions.

But an addiction controls and masters you. For that reason alone it falls under the slavery Jesus came to set you free from. He doesn’t want you to have any other masters except for him. Even if the world doesn’t notice, we have no excuse.

Others will give you a pass, allow you excuses. They let you sweep it under the rug and tolerate all of the excuses people have for these addictions. Some of them are even chemical addictions that people don’t even think of. But Jesus calls us to higher standards in him.

Looking the Other Way

If society doesn’t attach moral standards to these addictions, they don’t see them as wrong at all. Because they don’t register as moral issues and don’t cause society problems, they look the other way.

But addictions have to do with more than moral standards. They have to do with holiness. Even if they don’t have moral connections to society, people still hide them. There’s an inherent understanding we have that the addictions we hide from others are still wrong somehow.

Even if you can’t put your finger on it, there are reasons you hide things from others. Sometimes they are private that others don’t need to know. Things between you and your spouse, and even other family members, don’t need to be out there for everyone.

But if the world doesn’t care about your gluttony, gambling problems, or sex addiction, why do you feel the need to hide it? Deep down inside, we know these things are in control of our lives. As we have seen countless times in the public eye, we can only hide these things for so long.

Many people are afraid that their addictions will come out someday. Jesus said the things we hide will be shouted from the rooftops (Luke 12:3). Hidden things have a tendency of being found. But until that happens, they are safe in the dark. At least, this is how people comfort themselves for the time being.

What’s the worst that will happen if our addictions are exposed? Perhaps people will look down on us, not realizing that they have their own hidden addictions. Depending on how famous or important we are in our communities, there may be social shunning of us because of them.

Whatever the case may be, we tend not to think of how God feels about our addictions. Holiness doesn’t even come up on the radar. And yet this is what we should be concerned about. What God thinks of us is more important than society’s views.

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Not That Bad

We want to follow the world’s lead and declare they aren’t that bad. They are more dangerous than any of us can imagine. When they control us, we will do things we wouldn’t normally consider.

Addictions control our money, time, integrity, health, and who knows what else. It destroys our relationships with our family and friends. It can destroy our jobs. How much money do we spend on these little addictions?

We put our time and effort into securing our next fix, or whatever addiction binds us. We watch too much TV. We spend too much time on computers, the Internet, or our tablets. We compromise our integrity for the sake of fulfilling whatever pleasure we seek.

And this usually scratches the surface for people who are truly addicted and afraid to admit it. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these things in small portions, but our addictions make it much worse than that.

So we could justify them by saying they’re not that bad. But the truth if we were honest with ourselves is that they are much worse than we could ever imagine. If we had somebody explain to us how much of our resources these things take, we might even be appalled.

As a writer, one of my favorite tools tells me how much time I’m spending on each of my programs, websites, and the like. It categorizes everything by how much benefit I receive from working on that item.

For instance, it puts all of my social websites under unproductive categories. When I look at a graph of how I spend my time, sometimes I’m surprised because I didn’t think I spent that much time doing things that don’t help me in my writing or other objectives for that day.

Our addictions may not be seen by others, but they are still taking over our lives. Any kind of accountability would show us how much time, energy, and resources we waste on these things we spend so much effort to hide from others.

Personal addictions come at a high cost. Sometimes other people can see what we think is hidden. If only we knew how obvious it was to others. And that we have ourselves deceived, thinking no one else knows our proclivities. It’s most likely your family and friends know about them.

Everybody’s Doing It

Think of the addictions society doesn’t talk about. It doesn’t challenge them. But they are addictions. I know some people who can’t even get out of bed without the smell of coffee in the morning. They don’t just have cups of coffee. They have pots.

Others are addicted to social media. They can’t go more than two or three minutes without checking their Facebook or Twitter feeds. It doesn’t help that these are all designed to addict us to social media, what people are saying about us, what they think about our pictures.

Almost none of these addictions concern society. As long as we are not hurting anyone, nobody in society cares. Every once in a while someone will do a psychological study on the effects of these addictions. A doctor may be concerned if they propose a health risk.

By and large, everybody has one or more of these types of addictions. We shrug them off as if there’s no big deal. Some people even think they add personality to us. If anybody addresses these addictions, people get defensive and bring up their addictions.

Does God have any expectations when it comes to the social addictions? We know he has high standards for his people. But what’s wrong with being addicted to coffee or soda, movies and TV shows, Facebook and Twitter? After all, the Bible doesn’t mention some of our twenty-first century addictions.

Reigning It In

I define addictions as habits, substances, and things you can’t stop. They control your life. You have no willpower when it comes to these weaknesses. Since they master you, they are not of God. Even if the Bible doesn’t mention your specific addiction, God has principles that apply to it.

Most addictions arise out of overusing a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with surfing the web unless you can’t stop. When you binge watch hours and hours of TV shows, they control your life, your time, and your ability to do something else.

How can we stop our addictions? It all starts with willpower. Do we really want to be the kind of people we are when we have these addictions? Are they ruining our relationships, family time, work ethic, health, or other facets of our life?

One way to stop addiction in its place, to attended to a natural state and not abuse these good things in our lives is to have accountability. You can find someone who does not struggle with the same addiction who can help you see your addictive tendencies and actions.

This is a scary proposition because we don’t want anyone else to know about them. We especially don’t want to give them permission to see these parts of our personality. But exposing our addictions to others breaks their power over us.

There are some chemical addictions like drug use that require more than an accountability partner. They require a trained professional who can help with drug rehab and psychological issues that come with addictions. There is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it.

No Christian should look down on anyone who is working to get free of their addictions with professional help. I personally suggest a Christian counselor or Christian professional to help with these issues.

Conclusion

God has higher standards and wants us to walk in his freedom. He wants to be our only Master. If Jesus is Lord, nothing else in our life can take precedence over him. Addictions rule our lives and take our eyes off of Jesus.

They can destroy our relationships, steal our time, affect our work ethic, and cripple our health. None of these things are God’s will for us. What are some things in your life God wants to change to make you more like Jesus?

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