Page 10 - May 2021 - Truth & Tidings
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lmost all Christians struggle with   put, the message for addicts is this: “I love
               addiction at some level. This   you, and this behavior needs to stop.” This
        Astatement may surprise you. We       mirrors our experience of God’s love and
        usually think of addiction in terms of   echoes His call to repentance and deeper
        Proverbs 23:29-30: “Who has woe? Who   faith in Him.
        has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has     Similarly, the loving acceptance of a
        complaining? Who has wounds without   struggling believer by another believer
        cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those   when the sin of addiction is confessed (Jas
        who tarry long over wine; those who go   5:16) can be a tangible, powerful experi-
        to try mixed wine.”  However, if you have   ence of how God has loved us while we
        a smartphone, you are probably addicted   were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). Yet you must
        to it. If you work more hours than you   pair compassion  with  accountability;
        really should, you are probably addicted   confession and verbal repentance are not
        to your work. If abstaining from coffee or   enough. The addict must be compelled
        tea for a day or two leaves you headachy   to take full responsibility for their sin, its
        and irritable, you are an addict. If you call   impact on themselves (and likely on others
        shopping “retail therapy,” you likely have   as well), and for their pursuit of deliver-
        a problem!                            ance from the addiction.
          Now that we’ve established our com-  Breaking Through Denial
        mon struggle, hopefully we’ve created
        some compassion for those believers we   It is not uncommon for addiction to be
        encounter who are struggling with more   a well-fortified problem in a person’s life.
        severe addictions. Addictions are serious   They may cover it with lies and deceit,
        when they have moral, spiritual, social,   and certainly will obscure it with secrecy.
        and/or financial consequences, and when   For this problem to be resolved, it must
        the behavior is out of control, escalating,   be brought into the light (Joh 3:20) with
                                              at least one other believer, and certainly
        preoccupying and/or unmanageable (Pro   before the Lord as well.
        23:32-35). How do we help a believer
        caught in addiction?                    Unfortunately, excuses are often made,
                                              and we who love the Lord and His people
        Compassion and                        are sometimes too quick to receive them:
        Accountability                        “It just happened once,” or “Don’t worry,
                                              I’ll take care of it,” or “I’ve confessed it
          Shame cannot cure addiction any more   and dealt with it.” Denial is a symptom of
        than shame can sanctify a believer. On   addiction, not a signal that it has ended.
        the other hand, skirting the problem and   When you become aware of a pattern
        just loving someone more is equally inef-  of addictive behavior accompanied by
        fective. We must think of helping addicts   denial, Matthew 18:15-17 sets the ground-
        in terms of the gospel: the application of   work for escalating intervention until the
        both love and truth is necessary. Simply   addicted person is ready to fully confess
        ¹ All Scripture quotations in this article are from   their sin and own their responsibility to
        the ESV unless otherwise noted.       pursue sanctification.

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