Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Young men who come the drug and alcohol rehab center that I work at, who have children always claim that they ‘love’ them. When they have a few months of sobriety under their belt some start to feel that they are ‘OK’; they can make it on their own. They feel they no longer need to stay and work their program in our community. They say things like; “I want to help take care of my kids, I love them, I want to be a Dad to them.” Forgetting that before they came to treatment they had little or nothing to do with their kids when they were on the streets or in jail. Their ‘baby mothers’ were left to take care of the kids.
They deceive themselves with magical thinking and the denial of their disease of addiction. Yet, when I ask them to compare their chance of staying sober on their own with their chance of staying sober by sticking with their program, they often say that they have a far better chance if they stay; “I’ve never made it on my own before. Here, I don’t have the chance to get in with the wrong crowd and use.” These young men choose to leave, freely admitting that they are exposing themselves to a severe risk of relapse by doing so.
I ask them how their choice to leave – knowing that they will likely get back into dope – shows any great ‘love’ for their children. I ask; “If you love your kids wouldn’t you do what you had to do to stay clean and sober so you can be their Dad?” One young man upon some reflection said; “Well, maybe I don’t love my kids enough to stay here but I’m pretty fond of them!”
The Word of God describes this perverse behaviour; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) These young men lie so often that they believe their own lies. They blindly accept their false sentiments towards their children wanting so badly to believe that they are ‘good loving dads’. Yet in the cold sober light of day their actions expose them for what they are – sick and in the grip of addiction to the point that they risk their children. They are NOT ‘OK’.
How easy it is to see the flawed behaviour of dope addicts. How easy it is to judge them! How easy it is for me to believe that I’m OK and they’re NOT! Have you ever nursed resentment or held a grudge against someone you claim to ‘love’. If you’re like me, a lot of the time your ‘love’ for your ‘loved ones’ has been conditional. How close have you come to the fine line between ‘tough love’ and rejection? Have you turned your back on your brother, sister, son or daughter and called it ‘tough love’? Have you failed to honour your father or mother because of past hurts and resentments that you still nurse in your heart? Have you walked away from a friend over a difference of opinion blown all out of proportion? My sins are not as obvious as a dope addict’s but they wreak havoc in my life; “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” (1 Timothy 5:24)
If you’re like me these questions convict you. What ever rationalizations I choose to cover my shortcomings, no matter what lies I cling to in order to deceive myself, my heart is desperately wicked and fully exposed by the Word of God! Jesus calls Christians to a far higher standard; “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45) I have no strength in myself to do this, I can barely love my ‘loved ones’ in the way that honours God. I have nothing to stand on but His strength (Phil 4:13).
Jesus can save us all! Praise the Lord!