A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God…
– Ecclesiastes 2:24, NIV
So today, my Bible reading was from the last two chapters of Proverbs, 30 and 31. Besides the account of the wife of noble character, the readings were generally very troubling and depressing. It’s often a slight discomfort for me, whenever I come across Bible verses about the bleakness and frailty of life. Hevel. In my readings, I came across a couple of verses:
Alcohol is for the dying, and wine for those in bitter distress.
Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.
– Proverbs 31:6-7, NLT
I was curious and intrigued, as per the meaning of these verses. The bible in itself does not put a blanket statement saying that drinking in all its forms is a bad thing. Jesus himself drank alcohol. A lot of people tend to get this wrong. But in the context of this verse, it seems to portray alcohol as an adjuvant treatment or a supplementary medication that people can use as they go through certain phases of distress and discontent in their lives. I was reminded of what Paul told Timothy. I gained the impression that the practice of drinking could be acceptable, maybe even beneficial, as one could take from the context of both Old and New Testament.
Then afterwards, I went to Sunday service, where a guest speaker Dr. Harold Sala visited to share the word with our church. He spoke very fervently and very openly today about the topic of being filled with the Holy Spirit. About how we can only make an impact as followers of Christ if we accept and live by his empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not just some privilege that is reserved for the highest members of the church hierarchy–His Spirit is someone that Jesus gives freely to us all, so that we can go forth and share His love with all! Then, he spoke again on the topic of wine and alcohol, referencing it in a verse:
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit
– Ephesians 5:18, NLT
It hit me, that this is what my reading earlier today meant. Alcohol, or anything at all in this world that is good, is not bad in itself. Alcohol has a place in our lives. Work, fun, even life itself, has a place in our lives. (Life has a place in life… Lifeception wew) Things, however, can and will go bad when we make these little good things become the center of our lives. They are hevel, meaningless, and it is pointless to make our life revolve around these. God is gracious and gives us a wiser option–to live life by the Holy Spirit.
What the Bible tells us is that we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices for the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn up completely. Dr Sala said that failing to do so would be like writing a deal and selling your entire house to a buyer, but still stowing away your stuff in the attic. The buyer would be annoyed, to say the least. Likewise, if we are to give ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, we are to give up everything. Not just our sins, though that’s very important, as we are instructed to confess our sins to God and allow him to cleanse us from our sins. But yielding to the Holy Spirit means everything–our food, our drink, our calling, the way we handle our relationships–everything. As living sacrifices, being burned up completely is scary, and we have a natural tendency to crawl off the altar. We must make an effort to tell God everyday, “I want to live for your will, lead me where you want me to go.”
Turning away from idolatry means to seek God’s kingdom first and foremost, before all else. Because though all the good things in this life are not bad in the themselves, they are all temporary. Hevel. Meaningless. Everything of this world is destined to die. To find true meaning in life means to live something that is far greater than the temporary nature of the things in this world. It means to live completely for God. And in living for God, we can live for a purpose.
So grab a bottle of beer. Eat your favorite burger, and enjoy spending time with the people you love. But if you are a Bible-believing, Christ-saved, redeemed-by-grace, Spirit-filled person, then remember what–Who–you live for, before all else.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.
– Isaiah 40:7-8, NLT