How much is too much? There is a point at which excess becomes a sin. Too much focus
on money and material goods can become greed. Gluttony occurs from too much food and
consumption. Too much leisure and you can become lazy. So how do we know when we’ve
crossed the line from moderation into excess? And then from excess into addiction?
My first exposure to addiction was at my grandparents’ home. They smoked, which was typical
for their generation. We know more today about the dangers of smoking. I remember opening a
closet door and seeing stacks of cartons of cigarettes. Even as a young child, I thought, “This
might be a bit excessive.”
How can you know you have a problem? Consider these four warning signs of addiction: hiding,
avoiding, interfering, and narrowing.
1. Hiding: Consuming something in private, knowing others have a problem with it.
2. Avoiding: Intentionally getting away from loved ones to consume a substance.
3. Interfering: The feeling that family events or friends are getting in the way of your
4. Narrowing: You justify consumption and create excuses to consume more often.
I will take a deeper dive into these problems on Sunday. Those who regularly use these four
excuses to consume substances are heading in the wrong direction.
Physiologically, the addicted brain wants to maximize pleasure and minimize pain by consuming
more and more. The problem is this excess does not remove the pain but rather creates pain
and guilt. The vicious cycle of addiction occurs when the addict thinks “more” will ease the pain.
Instead, excess consumption only creates more pain and guilt. The solution to the sin of excess
and consumption is God-given contentment.
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. The passage begins, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great
wealth.” Godliness is who you are. Contentment is what you have. The two are inseparable
concepts. Contentment is internal satisfaction that does not depend upon external
circumstances. Contentment is more than being satisfied with what you have. Contentment is
being satisfied with who you are in Christ.
Addiction is a daily struggle because sin is a daily struggle. But the struggle is worth it because
you are worth it to God.