“Wine is a mocker and beer is a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1. “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”
Proverbs 23:31-32, NIV
The arguments about whether or not a Christian should drink alcohol have divided believers down the centuries. It is true that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that it is a sin to drink alcohol. There is no doubt that Jesus turned the water into the best wine at the wedding banquet. And there are no grounds for thinking that the wine that was used at the last supper was not real wine. But the Bible is also very straight about the inherent dangers of drinking more wine and beer than is good for you. Scriptures such as these cannot be ignored.
No-one would dispute that alcohol-fuelled behaviour is an ungodly curse on society. When people begin to lose control of their tongue and their senses they become vulnerable to every possible kind of temptation and their behaviour can become obnoxious and aggressive. The courts are constantly hearing cases of sexual assault and violent behaviour under the influence of alcohol, which have wreaked havoc on people’s lives, causing terrible suffering. Countless abortions have followed alcohol-inspired sexual activity.
And right across the world driving under the influence of alcohol claims thousands of lives. In the UK, on average, 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured every single year from drink-drive accidents. And in the USA thirty people die every single day – that’s about 11,000 deaths a year. These are astonishing and terrible statistics.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that God has placed many warnings in the Bible about the potential spiritual and physical dangers of excess drinking – we ignore them at our peril. And medical science is now backing up Scripture with well-substantiated health warnings. They are now saying that even modest levels of alcohol consumption can, on average, cut life expectancy by up to 20%!
The Bible is making a serious point when it says that in the end wine “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper”. As Christians we should not only listen to these warnings in Scripture, but also take note of what medical science is now telling us. The long-term consequence of drinking more than we should could be robbing us, our families and God of years of our life, and also induce years of disease-related suffering. And we should be doubly determined never to touch alcohol if we are about to drive a car.
The body God has given us is precious. It is our responsibility to look after it. Paul says “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore, honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
So, as believers, we know that our whole life is precious to God and that every hour, yes even every minute, matters to Him. Looking after the body, therefore, is a deeply spiritual responsibility and today’s Scripture should act as an alarm call to make us review how much we do drink, and how we treat the body God has given us, so that we can remain fit for His service and live all the years that God had planned for us.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the body You have given me and all the things You have created for our enjoyment. Forgive me, Lord, for any way in which I have abused my body by drinking more than is wise. I want to live all the years you had planned for me. Help me, I pray, to be self-disciplined as I seek to serve You with everything I am. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.