And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 (ESV)
Among believers, at least in North America, there is a healthy stigma with being drunk, and so most of us are careful to avoid consuming too much alcohol. But there are other significant sins that do not have such stigma, and it probably wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they did.
Consider Jesus’ words of warning about being ready for the last days:
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” Luke 21:34 (ESV)
When it comes to what Jesus is warning us against, it almost looks like one of these things doesn’t belong. According to a Greek dictionary, the word translated dissipation refers to “unbridled indulgence in a drinking party”, so it’s very similar to drunkenness. And then we have this phrase, “cares of this life.” We might perhaps better translate this, “the cares of daily life.”
The Cares of Daily Life
Come on, is it really that bad to be weighed down with the cares of daily life? Apparently, yes, for Jesus is saying that our hearts can be weighed down with worries about car repairs, clothing, and the health of our pets as much as they can be weighed down with alcohol. How does this work? Well, alcohol puts a person out of commission to serve God, and…so do the cares of this life. Our little fears throughout the day distract us, keeping us from focusing on Christ and His Kingdom. And the effect is that we are not prepared for His return.
So it’s funny that we Christians can talk about our worrying like it’s nothing: “I’m such a worrier,” we say. “Oh, yeah, me too,” our friend replies. (I know wherein I speak – I’ve said this sort of thing way too many times.) But how many people do you know who come to church laughing and yucking it up about their “big ol’ hangover” from Saturday night? Not too many I would guess.
So what to do with our worries?
1. Stop…and realize that it’s a sin to worry. Then begin to take it as seriously as you would a developing habit of bar-hopping on the weekends. By the way, I’m not advocating putting yourself on a guilt trip – that definitely won’t help – but I am saying that sometimes we have sins in our life that we don’t think of as sinful. The first step toward eating less, in other words, is to call yourself a glutton. And as long as we keep laughing about our “cares of daily life” habit, we will never take worry seriously enough to defeat it.
2. The second step is equally important: Prayer. Devote yourself to prayer over the items on your worry list, then wait for the peace of God to come and guard your heart. (See Philippians 4:6, 7) Much has been written about this, so enough said.
3. Finally, keep the cross always in front of you. It’s Calvary that tells us that, yes, our sin is bad, but it’s also forgiven by the God who loves us so much that He died for us. If He cared so much for us to walk in the way of the cross, will He not care enough for us to handle everything else. Romans 8:32 comes to mind…
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 (ESV)
Or, as Tim Keller wrote in The Reason for God:
“The fact that Jesus had to die for me humbled me out of my pride. The fact that Jesus was glad to die for me assured me out of my fear.”
For tomorrow, Thursday, July 30th: Luke 22