Mockers and Brawlers

“I haven’t seen you before,” I said to the young women ringing up my groceries the other day. (I make it a point to build relationships with people wherever I go.)

“I usually work at the liquor store next door,” she said.

“That explains it,” I replied. “I don’t drink.”

“I don’t drink either, and I work at a liquor store!” she laughed.

I then quickly explained why I don’t drink—that I’m a Christian, and I don’t want to misrepresent my Lord; also, that alcoholism runs through my family. She did not offer an explanation on her end, though I noticed she was particularly interested in mine.

And then I recalled the scene I had witnessed the previous night at my favorite restaurant. It was Mother’s Day, and my son and his wife were treating me to Vietnamese food. Suddenly we were aware of a ruckus at a table behind us.

“We’ve been drinking since 11 o’clock this morning,” one woman slurred. There arose a cacophony of slurred speech from the table that I fought to ignore so I could focus on enjoying time with my family.

“I just heard her say she works with a nondenominational Christian ministry,” my daughter-in-law leaned in to tell me. I had been building a relationship with the manager of the restaurant with hopes of leading him to Jesus. What impression would this give him of Christians, I had to wonder? Above all, how is she—a supposed ambassador for Christ – misrepresenting the One she claims to serve?

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.—Proverbs 20:1

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality an sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.—Romans 13:13-14

It became increasingly difficult to talk over them. Eventually the two ladies stumbled toward the single-stall bathroom, after which I determined there was not enough bleach in the world to clean up whatever happened there, the evidence of which trailed down the back of one woman’s dress.

On Monday morning, as I awoke clear-headed and ready to tackle my day, I imagined what the women at that table awoke to and the tales they would tell. Would they boast of their indiscretions, or would they be ashamed? Were their consciences too seared for them to experience shame?

Too often people use alcohol as a sedative to inoculate them against the pains they experience in this world. I have seen families—even Christian families—ripped apart by addiction to alcohol. I personally have been abused by those under its influence.

Many believers I know are comfortable with an occasional glass of wine or a beer on a special occasion. But won’t those who are unaccustomed to the influences of alcohol be affected by it much more quickly than those who drink habitually? Alcohol alters your consciousness and affects your judgment. Is it worth it?

For me, the answer is no. I have suffered enough. My family has suffered enough. You are free in Christ to choose your own position on alcohol use provided you are willing to lay it, along with everything else in your life, at the feet of Jesus. May we strive to do all for His glory.