Written by Brian Baker
As we begin to read Proverbs 20, right out of the gate it feels like a bit of a downer. Verse 1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Yep I knew it, those Christians are boring stick in the muds and they are telling me I shouldn’t drink alcohol, but as we read further in Proverbs 20, this opening verse becomes more relevant.
In the next few versus, we are encouraged not to incite anger in those that have been called to lead us, it is more honorable to avoid strife than to pick fights and if we don’t work hard and prepare for the future our resources may run out. So what do these versus have to do with drinking beer and wine? I know everyone is different, but if you’re like me, alcohol is an escape. Though I like the taste of some alcoholic drinks, what I really want are the side effects it promises. Relaxation, less worries, laughs and just the overall ability to help me have a good time. But is that really the case? As I look back, more times than not, if I chose to drink more than my fare share, relaxation and good times may have been had, but it also occasionally led to inciting anger in friends and family, which led to disagreements and strife and ultimately, a very unproductive and regretful next day.
As my walk with Christ has grown, I have realized that I no longer need the effects of alcohol to escape from reality, celebrate life’s victories or deal with fear. In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-control or sound mind.” God calls us to be in the right frame of mind, not just some of the time, but all the time. We are called to be the face of Christ and there are times we may be the only Jesus some people encounter so, how can we respond in a Christ-like manner if on the weekend we trade Jesus for overindulgence?
I understand everyone’s struggle may be different, but for me, in the past, my desire for Friday night cocktails actually started around Wednesday. I found I started looking forward to those times and started losing site of God’s calling for me. Back in verse 1 it says “whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” I always felt like I had the ability to limit my consumption and my intensions were to maintain a sound mind, but that wasn’t always the case, and I bet it may be the same for some of you.
This coming June will mark seven years since I had my last drink of alcohol. While I did not personally struggle with addiction, once God spoke to me, I knew with conviction it was His desire for me to replace alcohol with Him. Proverbs 20:7 says “the righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him” and verse 9 says “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean without sin.” While I know I am not blameless or without sin, I do know that God called me out of my particular sin and the feeling of victory as a result of being obedient far outweighs the effects that alcohol provided. The beautiful thing is, blameless doesn’t imply perfection. In God’s eyes I don’t have to be perfect, just a man filled with integrity and for me at times alcohol stood in the way of my integrity.
If we call ourselves Christ followers, this can put us under the proverbial microscope, and because of this, we have two choices. We can choose to represent Christ in a way that is attractive to others or we can live up to what some people believe Christians to be; a bunch of self-righteous, rule following nuts that literally check fun at the door of salvation. I have found first hand there is true freedom and joy in being obedient to God’s calling and direction. That kind of joy cannot be found anywhere other than Jesus. In what area of your life is the wisdom found in Proverbs calling you into obedience?