by Tad Lindley
You know the house of Stephanas…that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. (I Corinthians 16:15)
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “to addict” as “to give oneself up to some strong habit”. When we hear the word addiction, often we picture the broken soul at Wal-Mart with meth mouth bumming dollars from passersby to get another hit. Or perhaps we think of the heroin user with tracks up and down their arms, or the person wandering the streets of Bethel with Listerine oozing from their pores. Those are only the most extreme cases of addiction.
More common forms of addiction
Certainly those individuals have given themselves up to a strong habit, but what about the gambler, the liar, the weekend warrior whose children live in fear of Friday and Saturday nights, the husband who views internet pornography after his family is in bed, the respectable couple who tucks the kids in early and then gets the bong out, the one who gives themselves up to violent outbursts of temper, the gossiper, or the chronic self-pity partier? All of these conditions I have described fit the dictionary definition of addiction; they are strong habits that people give themselves up to. Not only can these things become strong habits, but they are sin.
Who do you say you are?
If you find yourself constantly talking or thinking about something, it might be a strong habit you have given yourself up to. If you knew that people were following you around watching you, would you change your habits? Is there something in your life that causes you to become cranky when you can’t get it? When you are with your friends, what do you talk about? What are you really excited about in life? The answers to these questions might give you insights into who you really are.
Am I excited about Jesus?
Am I as excited about Jesus as the 4:20 crew is about marijuana? A friend used to carry a business card that made the following suggestion:
If you aren’t excited about being a Christian, then maybe you aren’t.
The majority of us in this region would classify ourselves as either Christian, Jewish, or agnostic. If you are a Christian or a Jewish reader, I want you to stop reading and ask yourself this question out loud: “Who do men say that I am?”
Who do men say that you are?
Jesus asked his disciples the same question. Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? (Matthew 16:13) By his daily observation of Jesus’ actions and conversation, Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah. But let us ask that question of ourselves. Who do people say we are? What if we had strangers follow us for several days (not Sunday or Wednesday)? They would listen to everything that we said, and observe most of what we did. Then at the end of those days, they were asked to classify us as Christian/Jewish or as agnostic. How would people classify you based on your words and your actions?
But what about “God looks on the heart”
True, the Bible does tell us, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Samuel 1:7). Jesus builds on that in Matthew 12:34, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. Our heart will tell on us through our mouth. This is why Monday morning you may have heard the alcoholics at your work place talking about parties over the weekend. That is where their heart is.
When our heart is set on Godly things, it will be apparent to people who hear us talk. We will talk about the Lord. We will talk about his word. We will lift him up in praise. If we are Christian in our heart, it will be apparent to people, because we will love the unlovable (Luke 6:32), and be servants to all (Matthew 23:11).
Our life will let them know
If we are diligent about serving God, our life will show it. Not license plates or window stickers, not just Sunday mornings, but our day to day life. And perhaps, after we have run our course, we might receive the honor given Stephanas and his household: …that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints (I Corinthians 16:15). Their lifestyle told the world that they were unreservedly, unashamedly addicted to Jesus.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.