Proverbs 20c

Drink. Drank. Drunk.

“Wine produces mockers, alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” – Proverbs 20:1 NLT

Let’s face it, alcohol is a permanent part of our society. It’s even an accepted part of the lives of many believers today. Gone are the days when having alcohol in your home was unacceptable and unchristian. While there are still some denominations that speak out against alcohol and its consumption as inappropriate behavior for a Christ-follower, you rarely hear much said about it anymore. And while the Scriptures don’t ban its consumption outright, there are clear warnings as to its use and potential abuse. Here in the wisdom literature of Proverbs we have an in-your-face warning included by Solomon that doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the danger of alcohol. And he isn’t talking about distilled alcohol, he’s talking with everyday, run-of-the-mill, average Hebrew household wine. He describes it as a mocker. Too much wine or alcohol in the system can turn anyone into an obnoxious, inebriated blowhards who are offensive to be around. The NET Bible puts it this way: “Excessive use of intoxicants excites the drinker to boisterous behavior and aggressive attitudes – it turns then into mockers and brawlers.” You’ve seen them, been around them, and may have been there once or twice yourself. Alcohol clouds your senses, dulls your thinking, and distorts your perspective. The weak become strong. The timid become brave. The quiet become bold. Inhibitions get tossed aside like a bottle cap and concern for decorum or reputation get lost in the euphoric, alcohol-induced buzz. The Message has a not-so-subtle way of paraphrasing this verse. “Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome – a staggering drunk is not much fun.” How sadly true.

Yet how quickly most people defend their right to drink. They rationalize that they are only a casual drinker. They claim about how they can hold their liquor. They assert their strong tolerance level and ability to know when to stop. Yet no matter how you look at it, alcohol is an intoxicant. It’s a drug that alters perception and influences behavior, and not usually for the better. Loss of control at any degree is rarely a good thing whether we’re talking about our tongue, thoughts, inhibitions, or motor skills. There is probably no more descriptive passage on the influence of alcohol than Proverbs 23:29-35.

29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow?
Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining?
Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns,
trying out new drinks.
31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is,
how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake;
it stings like a viper.
33 You will see hallucinations,
and you will say crazy things.
34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea,
clinging to a swaying mast.
35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it.
I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.
When will I wake up
so I can look for another drink?”

What a sad picture. But what a realistic look at what alcohol can do to the average man or woman. So much of the sorrow and heartache in the world today can be linked directly to the influence of alcohol. It can rob men of their work ethic. It can tear apart families and destroy marriages. It deadens the emotions and kills incentive. It wastes time, money, and talent, and squanders vast amounts of human potential. Other than lining the pockets of the companies that manufacture it, alcohol has little in the way of redeeming value. Gone are the days when it was necessary for medicinal purposes. We have medicine and doctors for that. While it may calm the nerves and settle the soul, it can easily become a crutch that prevents us from dealing with reality. How many people have to have a drink when they get home to wipe away the effects of the day? But is that really necessary for a believer? Do we need to have a substance provide us with peace and tranquility when we have the Holy Spirit of God living within us? Now don’t get me wrong. I am not calling for a ban or a prohibition on alcohol, but I am asking that we reassess its role in our lives and its impact on our society. Solomon closes out the Book of Proverbs with another powerful warning about alcohol.

Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves,
gulping wine and swilling beer,
Lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong,
and the people who depend on them are hurt.
Use wine and beer only as sedatives,
to kill the pain and dull the ache
Of the terminally ill,
for whom life is a living death. (Proverbs 31:4-7 MSG)

As believers, we are called to a higher standard. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should always want to be in full use of our faculties. We should never want to be out of control when it comes to our thoughts, speech or actions. There is no such thing as a wise drunk.

Father, give us a clear perspective on the use of alcohol. While we may be free to drink, it may not be the best thing for us or for those around us. Help us each see this issue from Your perspective, not our own. Let us be willing to die to our rights and live to Your will. Don’t allow us to let our hearing, judgment, or faculties to be clouded or distorted by anyone or anything. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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