How alcohol became an idol

I’ve often heard idolatry described as having something more important than God. This is a pretty good description. Since physical idols aren’t prevalent today, it helps remind us that values and pursuits can be idols too. So, wealth can be an idol when it is more important to us than God. But, even as a follower of Jesus, I have moments of idolatry. Let me explain.

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Often we think of idols as carved wooden statues. This is the picture the Bible often gives us. Just think, the golden calf, or how the Psalms tell us we become like the idols we worship (Psalm 115:4-8). The problem is I don’t see people worshipping statues in my culture. I see them devoting themselves to stuff like money.

I’ve often heard idolatry described as having something more important than God. This is a pretty good description. Since physical idols aren’t prevalent today, it helps remind us that values and pursuits can be idols too. So, wealth can be an idol when it is more important to us than God.

But, even as a follower of Jesus, I have moments of idolatry. Let me explain.

Why I Stopped Drinking

I stopped drinking alcohol for a period a few years ago. I know, there are passages in the Bible that speak about alcohol, but my decision had nothing to do with this.

Whenever I was highly stressed, I noticed I would grab a drink. As a result, I developed an unhelpful pattern.

Just to be clear, alcohol wasn’t a problem for me. I didn’t drink every day, and when I did, it was less than a standard drink. In and of itself alcohol wasn’t the problem. I was.

I had developed a routine where I looked to something other than God when I felt stressed. God was still more important to me, but I had made myself a ‘stress crutch’.

Maybe alcohol has never been an issue for you, but have ever made yourself a ‘stress crutch’? Do you ever look to something other than God?

  • Seeking pleasure?
  • Risk-taking?
  • Smoking?
  • Chocolate?
  • Shopping?

These things can easily become idols. Not the kind of idol we bow down to or build our life around, but the type we look to in moments of crisis.

This was the case for me. My response to stress was to for a drink instead of looking to Jesus.

Some may say it was a coping mechanism. I disagree.

It did help me cope, but I was effectively saying that I didn’t need to look to Jesus at that moment. I am okay on my own.

I think this is a form of idolatry.

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What Did I Do?

If you can relate to any of this, I have good news. You can overcome this.

Here’s what I did.

1. Notice What’s Going On.

I observed I responded to stress with a drink. Is there a pattern that you can see? Maybe chocolate?

2. Find Grace.

God is faithful. He knows we let him down. He forgives and restores us.

3. Take Action.

God’s faithfulness is great but often we also need to do something. I decided to stop drinking altogether.

I could have changed my response to stress, but stopping drinking worked for me.

What action do you need to take?

4. Let Others Help.

I immediately told my wife Megan what was going on. She asked if I wanted to stop drinking as well. I didn’t, I just needed her to understand why I wasn’t.

Who do you have around you who can share your journey?

What Did This Mean For The Future?

I saw I was relying on a quick drink instead of God when I was stressed and so I stopped drinking. It was a good decision. That helped me reorient my life around God.

I continued not drinking for around 2 years, so this wasn’t a short term project. The easy part was saying no to a drink. The hard part was learning to fully trust God at all times.

I have come through this journey and seen that God is faithful. Now I’ll have a beer or a glass of wine with my wife during dinner sometimes and not feel guilty.

How about you? What is the ‘crutch’ you need to get rid to learn to trust God more?

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