Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 11 – Living In The Assurance Of God’s Love

“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Proverbs 25:16

Devotional Thought For The Day

I have often wondered about that part of our sinful nature which seems to compel us to get too much of a good thing.  Whether food, alcohol, sexual pleasure, learning, exercise, work, gaining wealth, travel, television, video games, sleep – whatever; our tendency is toward gluttony, drunkenness, addiction, and enslavement, even to what may be good.  That this is common to fallen humanity, and not just a modern phenomenon, is made clear by this rather ancient proverb. It may be worse for people today since we are bombarded by all kinds of sensual stimulus and live more complicated lives. We all recognize the problems and dangers that this inner dynamic produces, yet we seem virtually incapable of controlling ourselves.  Moderation in all things requires a degree of discipline and self-control that we find quite difficult to manage.  If you struggle with this, regardless of the compulsion or addiction, you are not alone – all people have this to some degree, including all Christians.

It may be helpful to think about and identify what it is within us that creates this difficulty.  Empiricists look at brain chemistry and blame it all on compounds like dopamine – you can read the articles if you’re interested.  It seems fairly certain that chemistry plays some part in some of our addictions.  However, there are other factors that are part of our “thinking,” “feeling,” and “being.”  There is fear that we will not have another opportunity to indulge in the good thing, or not soon enough.  There is lack of faith that God will provide good things for us in the future.  There is a sense that we need good things to compensate for our difficulties – troubles, disappointments, pain, sorrow, frustration, weariness.  If we have no deep satisfaction in life, no sense of meaningful permanence, we are more vulnerable to fleeting pleasures. There may be other dynamics, but it seems there are times when we are virtually driven to over-indulgence, and we should not discount the factor of habit, which obscures our real reasons – we just kind of go into auto-pilot and without giving it much thought end up over-indulging.

There is a moral dynamic involved in all of this – God has created us with the dignity to be free, and that includes being free from compulsions and addictions. Likewise, we are to take care of our bodies and most compulsive behaviors have negative physical consequences.  This decreases our productivity and potential and time for doing good for others [and profitability, though this is much less of a concern].  It is also wasteful of God’s gifts, and selfish, denuding others of their share of things. And there is a certain degree of repulsiveness in this kind of behavior – so relationships may become more difficult.  There is also the matter of “self-loathing,” which intensifies the whole dynamic – and denies our God-given dignity.  So the first and most important thing when thinking about and addressing our “compulsions” is repentance – to turn to God and have an honest conversation with Him.  Do not think He is uninterested in you and your struggles – He has already numbered all the hairs on your head [He cares more about you than you care for yourself – Luke 12:7].  Second, there is no question that He has forgiven us for all of our sins, including those of various addictions, for “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin,” and “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 Jn. 1:7,9] Third, we must remember that His concern is not to demean us and make us feel “bad” about ourselves – that is Satan’s work; rather God is deeply concerned for our happiness, health, and joy. He is our ally, helper, and comforter in all things, and He is afflicted right along with us in all of our afflictions. [Is. 63:9]  Fourth, we dare never give up on Him, for He will never give up on us – and He is the most important help and strength that we have.

This faith in God’s goodness and love for us is the most effective encouragement toward self-control and discipline. He has promised to provide us with all that we need, all that is good for us – we need have no fear of getting more “honey.”  He is our comfort in the face of all of our difficulties – He is our help and shield, His calm and reassuring presence is the way to deal with our problems and disappointments in life.  He also is our greatest pleasure – if only we can get to the point where we recognize the sweetness of His great love for us, and past our infatuation with earthly pleasures.  If we understand that He will never leave us or forsake us, that His love for us is complete and eternal [Heb. 13:5; Jer. 31:3], then we will grow in understanding how “sweet” He is.  Then we can realize that when we think God has given up on us, it is really we who have given up on God.  He is still right here with us; and nothing can ever separate us from His love for us in Christ Jesus, not even our compulsions or lack of faith [Rom. 8:28-39].

Again, it is difficult to move beyond our compulsions and addiction to the things that have enslaved us.  God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness is the path, growing in our faith and our knowledge of God’s great love for us.  There cannot be too much of this – for His love will always compel us to balance, so that in all things we take only what is truly “enough” for us, what we need.  May He grant such faith and joy in His love in ever fuller measure to each of us.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, obviously You are fully aware of this human weakness, our lack of faith and devotion to You, and our propensity to try to resolve our sense of “need” with the things of this world.  We have not learned that we live by Your Word alone, by Your love for us. Draw us closer to You by teaching us all aspects of Your wondrous love for us, that we may turn to You for all our needs.  Grant us discipline and self-control in the face of our addictions – by the power of Your love, that we may exult in all of the blessings You will for us, most importantly the assurance of Your gracious and everlasting embrace, that You have claimed us as Your dear children forever.  Amen.