I remember seeing the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman for the first time in Twister in which he stole several scenes. Since then, he has clearly made his mark on stage and screen including attaining the coveted Oscar for Best Actor in a leading role. Since his untimely death only a few days ago, the internet has been a place of much discussion and debate regarding the nature of drug addiction. I want to offer some thoughts here. We must not tag wrong behaviors with legitimizing terminology, even with the best intentions. It is discouraging to read web articles that express the idea that Hoffman’s brain would not allow him to make the right choices. If one has a quasi-scientific excuse for wrong behavior, then one is free from responsibility and/or culpability and more importantly–he is stuck in a trap. There is far more encouragement and hope for the person who understands that since he has gotten himself into a mess, he can get himself out. Labels like “disease” “disorder” or “addiction” really trap the person into a hopeless corner. Moreover, these terms provide excuses for things such as drunkenness or getting high; thereby releasing one from responsibility. Granted, choosing to use substances becomes easier over time because it has become habitual but the choices are in no way a final snare as some have purported. Once someone begins creating new habits, one can begin to climb out from frequent use of substances. Addicts do have a way out and in Hoffman’s case, it would have been hard but not impossible. I offer Mark Shaw’s “The Heart of Addiction” and Edward Welch’s “Addictions:A Banquet In The Grave” as resources to stimulate your thinking in this area.
I think a great name for an industrial cleaner would be “Elbow Grease.” I can picture the bottle and hear the commercial in my mind with the narrator saying, “for the toughest stains, all you need is ‘Elbow Grease’…try some today.” We use the phrase, elbow grease to motivate people to try harder–no matter what the task is. In this final blog of the series on Using the Brain God Gave You, I want to motivate people to put forth effort and hard work that God requires for us to think and act biblically.
The renewal of the mind that Paul calls for (see part 2 in this series) will not be easy and the Apostle Peter agrees as he states in his letter (1 Pet 1:13). The believer is to “gird up the loins of his mind,” which is similar to the modern day proverb, “roll up your sleeves and get to work.” Peter applies this maxim to the need for believers to be holy (14-15). In other words, in order for the counselee to live a holy life that God demands, he must do the hard work of thinking correctly. Granted, changing one’s behavior is complicated at times, but there is tremendous hope for the one who grasps this basic concept that genuine change begins by renewing the mind from what you once thought was true to what the Bible teaches is true. Godly actions will certainly follow!
I agree with the addage “a mind is a terrible thing to waste!” I am sure that no one would want to fall into the category of those who waste mental energy on things that have no lasting or redeeming merit. Amusement and entertainment are fine but should be kept within reasonable proportions. This blog is the third in a series of four and is designed to stimulate readers towards engaging the mind in daily life–centered on the Scriptures.
Paul writes rather succinctly that those who fulfill the lusts of the flesh do so from wrong desires of the mind and heart (Eph 2:3). Therefore, it is imperative that I deal with my mind and heart as they relate to my current problems in life. In doing so, I will answer two important questions: What does I think about my sin? What do I want (or love) so much that I am willing to sin to get it?
Anger, lust, depression, addictions…many problems in life can surface as the result of someone yielding solely to his feelings. There is a wise maxim that reads, “You can’t begin to act like Jesus until you think like Jesus.” There is a lot of biblical merit to that. Jesus always chose to do the will of the Father, whether he felt like it or not. He engaged His mind to obey the Father on the night before His death because He certainly didn’t feel like it. His actions followed His thinking, not His feelings. I can learn a lot from Jesus’ use of His mind in making important, God-pleasing decisions that will help him to have victory through his current problems and set him up for future success. I need to equip myself to think biblically that will lead me to godly actions. When i can make this a habit in my life, then I cannot be guilty of “wasting my mind!”