Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Proverbs 23:29-35 Watch out for the sting!

Who are the people who are always crying the blues?

    Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?

Who keeps getting beat up for no reason at all?

    Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot?

It’s those who spend the night with a bottle,

    for whom drinking is serious business.

Don’t judge wine by its label,

    or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor.

Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—

    the splitting headache, the queasy stomach.

Do you really prefer seeing double,

    with your speech all slurred,

Reeling and seasick,

    drunk as a sailor?

“They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt;

    they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing.

When I’m sober enough to manage it,

    bring me another drink!” (Proverbs 23:29-35 The Message)

There really is nothing funny about a drunk! In the 1960’s there were many comedians who made a good living hilariously portraying drunks in their acts. But if you have ever lived with or been a drunk, you know that there is nothing funny about the consequences. What looks like fun in these verses? Would it be the tendency to morose self-pity? The bloodshot eyes? The splitting headache? The “queasy stomach” that leads to vomiting? The slurred speech? Sounds like a blast! This is the kind of “fun” some of us “enjoyed” in college. Fortunately, I got it all out of my system in college! But many keep up the “partying” throughout their adult lives. Like all sinful pleasures, it starts out feeling good, then it turns on you and holds you in its power.

In the English Standard Version, verses 32-33 give an added picture:

In the end it bites like a serpent

    and stings like an adder. 
Your eyes will see strange things,

    and your heart utter perverse things. 

For me, the danger was in my mouth! I actually would utter perverse things! [NOTE: I was NOT a Christian in college!!! ] But I also saw the effects of alcohol on my parents and what horrid words they would hurl at each other after a night of drinking. In the end it bites - big time! Alcohol destroys your brain and it ruins a family! While an occasional glass of wine with dinner can be fine, too many among us can’t stop there. It goes down smoothly, but it can lead to ruin!

I’m not going to march up and down the street carrying a sign proposing a ban on alcohol. However, there are so many friends I dearly love who really just need to stop! You can’t stop without divine intervention, so my prayer is that the LORD would speak to those among us who need to stop, and give us the desire to turn from alcohol to true freedom in Christ.

If you are a parent and your child has witnessed you drunk, you need to stop. If you have gotten into an argument with your spouse while drinking, you need to stop. If you have missed work or church because you partied too heartily, you need to stop. If you have the drinker’s belly, you need to stop. If your drinking is stumbling someone else - even if you don’t get drunk - you need to stop.

I know I sound like a “Temperance League” biddy, but there really is a freshness to the pain I’ve felt because someone I love has been harmed by drinking. I’m sure you know someone, too. LORD, thank you for the help and strength you give us to turn from ANYTHING that harms us. Help us to seek our pleasure in worshiping you alone!  

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