Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leave It Off Please by Martin Wiles

I was a young adult and had been hooked since I was fourteen.

It was the seventies. In the United States of America especially, sexual revolution, political corruption, war, draft dodging, civil rights, gay rights, hallucinogenic drugs, alcohol and cigarettes were rife. I struggled with the latter. Most of my friends and peers smoked as well as quite a few family members. Smoking was permitted almost everywhere. Even in the hospital.

But something caused me to reconsider the habit. I was asked to teach a Sunday School class at my church. Sporting a pack of cigarettes in my front pocket while standing before an open Bible and students eagerly wanting to learn just didn’t seem right. So I quit.

John the Baptist was a teetotaler. No eating food prohibited by Jewish regulations. No drinking or anything else that might damage his reputation. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’ (Matthew 11:18). As Jesus’ forerunner, he wasn’t required to give up these things; it was simply his choice. Jesus on the other hand enjoyed socializing. This confused people who probably assumed the reverse should be true.

Believers for centuries have debated whether tobacco, alcohol and a host of other things are ethical. From teetotalers to indulgers to liberals, we run the gamut. While there are no specific commands not to drink, smoke or take drugs, there are verses reminding us our bodies are temples of God’s Spirit and that our testimony is fragile and important.

God’s goal is for us to point others to his love and help them live a spiritually productive life. Any actions hindering the process should be re-evaluated and perhaps left off.

Prayer: Merciful Savior, strengthen us to leave off anything hindering our work for You.
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