The other day I was sitting in my bed having some me-time with God. I was just flipping through the index of my New Testament NLT Bible. For some unknown reason I just felt like using that version on that specific night, normally I read an NIV Bible, but I have various versions in my home since some translations explain certain passages better than others, so if I get stuck on the meaning of a passage I try a different version.
So anyway, I was flipping through the index of my New Testament NLT Bible and stopped on the entry for “Alcohol”. I read down the list. I’m not 100% sure why I read that list but it might have something to do with the bar fight over the previous weekend that I wasn’t present to see but heard all about the next day and had flashes of previous sins in my life which resulted in me making the decision to never touch alcohol again unless it is in medicine or is a glass of champagne/wine at a wedding/other celebration.
I read down the list:
Romans 13:13-14. Becoming drunk is sinful. – yip, I know that already.
Galatians 5:19-21. God hates drunkenness. – huh? it really says that? *page to Galatians 5:19-21*, and end up reading the whole section from Galatians 5:16-26.
Now I strongly recommend going to this website and comparing the NLT version to the NIV version. I’ll even include links here to make it easy for you:
In essence they are the same, but the NLT version is written in a way that a teenager (or young Christian) can understand it. The NIV version is (in my opinion) a little more advanced… I don’t know if I want to even try and look at the KJV, but for the sake of completeness here it is with a link:
Now remember at this stage I had only read the NLT version, and it took my breath away. Who would have thought the words “wild parties” would be in the Bible?
I compared the list of the desires of sinful nature to myself – I can count 2 things that I have recently been able to overcome with God’s help. One or two others are going to be ongoing battles for a while (remember, I am not perfect).
I am proud to say that the night before reading this passage God had confronted me (well I think it was confronted because I was in prayer and I just got an unmistakable urge to do this) about the alcoholic drinks that had been sitting on the shelf untouched for over a year. I hadn’t thrown them away because I don’t like to waste.
Something in my brain clicked that I was never going to drink it, and I was never going to offer it to guests so I might as well throw it down the kitchen sink, and that is what I did.
I think that Galatians 5:16-26 (in the NLT) gives a nice well-rounded list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for new and old Christians. So often I have just asked God “Why couldn’t you have given us a list of basic everyday life things that you like and don’t like us doing, in black and white?” Well, guess what, he did give it to us, just some of us haven’t found it yet.
Then we go onto the next part, the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I think that overall, a lot of us can say “Yes, 60% of the time I am those things, some of them I am 80-90% of the time.” But there is always room for improvement.
For example, I am extremely patience while waiting in lines, but I am impatient while waiting for God to answer prayer – I need practice in that one.
There was a saying: “Never pray for patience because God will make you practice it!”, but I say we have to look at our weaknesses and pray that God will give us opportunities to practice our weaknesses. I know that my weakness is self-control and I have a friend whose weakness is peace. He is so eager for arguments, he’ll take the opposing view just to have a good argument with someone (whether he believes the opposing view or not)!
Then the next question is what is your biggest strength? Mine is peace, I try to maintain the peace in all situation, I strongly dislike arguing and would rather say “Well, we can agree that we disagree” and end the discussion there. My not-so-little-anymore cousin’s biggest strength (in my opinion) is self-control, but with him it is difficult to pinpoint his strength because he just seems to be overflowing with love, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I don’t know if he is patient, but I’ve never seen him impatient.
The point is to cultivate your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Think of the school situation. If you discover in Grade 4 that you are above average in Maths, but below average in reading, the teachers recommend extra lessons to improve your reading skill. And a good teacher will acknowledge your strength in Maths and recommend you enter mathematics tournaments to encourage you to build on your skill. In the same way we need to focus on both our strengths and our weaknesses. Pray for opportunities to practice our weaknesses and pray for situations to use our strengths. I’m going to.
This has turned out rather long, so I would like to congratulate you if you read the whole thing. I intended just to write a few paragraphs and it just flowed into an essay. Each time I finished off one section, it flowed into a new one – but that is how my train of thought works.
May God Bless each of you!