Those who have never experienced an addiction can seem unsympathetic and uncaring. Why? There are several reasons, like thinking that self-inflicting destruction does not deserve compassion, or maybe it’s the arrogance of thinking they themselves would never be so blind to let something like that happen to them. I feel the greater consideration would be, “is becoming captured in the dependency of a chemical more of a sin than any other type of obsessive attraction or dependence?” Is drug addiction more of a sin than the addiction of overeating, pornography, alcohol, gambling, or even the dependency associated with social media? Why is it easier to discriminate and have prejudice against an addict than for example, someone who lies and cheats on their taxes? Maybe for some spectators it’s just easier to condemn someone that in their worldview is considered higher on the list of destructive behavior.
I recently received a call from a distraught mother that has a daughter who is in every sense of the word an addict. The family lives on the West Coast and she began to tell her painful story of how they were once a happy and blessed family. They went to church, were financially stable and so proud of both of her beautiful daughters. Sadly, the girls started hanging around bad crowds and drifted away. That was eleven years ago. One daughter is recovering, and the other is incarcerated in our local detention center. I made an appointment to see the one who is here in my city. Those who work there know me as a community chaplain and allowed me to meet with her privately in a small office space. We had a productive conversation as she cried more tears in forty-five minutes than some people weep in a lifetime. She wants to change and go back to way things used to be. She remembers flirting with the curiosity of getting high which seemed exciting at the time and how she eventually surrendered to the subtle temptations to experience the pleasures everyone was talking about. Slowly she became entangled in a spider web which led her deeper into dependency and in a short period of time it had her wrapped tightly in the bondage of despair. Yes, she made bad choices, but we all have. The reality is that God wants to recover everyone’s life, but He cannot bring healing and balance if we will not let go of the problem. Whatever we are trying to break free from, we must take it one choice, one day, and one breath at a time. It will not be simple or painless for this young woman or anyone else to regain control of their life, nonetheless we have this glorious promise; “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
When discussing the negative attitudes of judgment and condemnation, we are reminded of the true account found in John chapter eight where Christ interrupts a public execution involving a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders asked Jesus concerning His thoughts about the Mosaic law with the intention of confusing Him, to which He simply replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” This was amazing, but the story does not stop here. As the execution squad quietly walked away, Jesus told the woman that her accusers no longer condemned her and neither did He, go and sin no more. When we see the animosity, disgust, and contempt toward those who have made horrible choices, the question remains as to why human nature is always ready to throw the first stone? I recall the old saying about how people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks and this should remind us of God’s mercy toward us. I believe it’s important in these troubling times, to be more forgiving and more concerned about making sure our own heart is right with God. Spending our time focusing and judging others, causes an infection of pessimism, resentment, and even hatred. When we neglect to pray and repent about these dark attitudes, we become cold and harsh which adds to our misery. Are we not to love others as ourselves? Asking God to forgive us washes us clean, fills us with His peace, and reveals our need to drop the stones.
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