March 13, 2017

Leviticus 10:8-9 Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”

The start of this story does not say that Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were drunk when they did what got them killed, but to me this passage is a strong indicator that was the case. I’m reminded of the somewhat tasteless joke that says that a redneck’s last words are, “Here, hold my beer and watch this.” There is literally no end to the number of foolish things that are done under the influence of alcohol. Both Old and New Testaments warn of the dangers of alcohol, but mankind hasn’t paid much attention. It’s not that ethanol doesn’t have its uses. It has been demonstrated that one drink a day actually improves the circulatory system, and in situations where the water isn’t safe, diluted wine can be the wisest choice to drink. The problem is, so few people who drink limit themselves to that. That said, the reverse problem is the imagined moral superiority of those who don’t drink and despise those who do. That’s an instant recipe for hypocrisy, because no one is perfect. The thing is, it makes no sense to expose yourself to unnecessary temptation. Different people have widely different responses to alcohol, and finding out you have an addictive personality is a tragic discovery indeed.

I feel I am blessed never to have liked the taste of beer, or even of most wines. It has always seemed ironic to me that people invent ways to disguise the taste of alcohol in order to be able to drink it. I find bourbon coke quite palatable, but the question becomes, why drink it? If I drink to escape the pressures of life, then I am turning to something other than God for my “salvation.” I have had many friends and acquaintances who drank, and it has always seemed very appropriate to me that one term for “drunk” is “wasted.” When we numb ourselves with alcohol we are wasting either our God-given intellect or an opportunity to grow spiritually and emotionally, or both. I have had many delightful times without alcohol, and find it sad that some people can’t seem to relax without a glass or a can in their hand. That said, I must not be holier-that-thou about it all. I am to walk in personal sobriety but not confuse that as a substitute for genuine holiness. Just because I don’t drink doesn’t mean I’m holy! I need to recognize we are all equally in need of God’s grace, and so operate as an open channel of that grace to all around me. I need to teach people the joys of being “high on the Holy Spirit.” As I have said many times, there’s never a hangover from being drunk in the Spirit!

Father, thank You for Your grace toward me. Help me remember always that it is grace indeed, and not something I have earned. Help me extend that grace effectively to others, so that they too may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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