MAJOR SUSAN ELLIS
Maybe it all began by an adult leaving an alcoholic beverage unattended. Or maybe a friend offered them a sip of beer. Or maybe they waited until they were the legal age to drink alcohol. I’m pretty sure that none of them ever thought while taking that first swallow that one day they would take someone’s life due to their drunkenness. But they did: in 1979 my brother, and in 2006 my nephew. Their lives and the lives of my family have never been the same.
(Above: Author’s nephew)
Alcohol use and abuse effects all of us, whether we drink any or to excess. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website “each year in the U.S., nearly 80,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in our country. In 2006, alcohol problems cost the U.S. $224 billion each year, primarily from lost productivity but also from health care and property damage costs. These issues affect all Americans, whether they drink or not. And globally, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability; among people between the ages of 15 to 49, it is the first.” So we cannot ignore this social problem any longer. This is a social issue we each are responsible to fight.
As Salvationists, we need to remind ourselves of our Soldier’s Covenant which states, “I will abstain from alcoholic drink…all else that could enslave the body or spirit.” Some may say that our choice of abstaining from alcohol is a judgment on those who drink. Our choice of this lifestyle is not “more-righteous-than-thou” but a call to a modest and humble lifestyle that will help win others for Christ. It is a call that is more concerned for others than me. It is awakening of our spirit to be sensitive to the needs and weaknesses of those around me. And our adherence to this covenant will bring glory to God and help build his Kingdom.
Ponder this: no one ever regrets not drinking, but many regret having ever taken that first sip. Be brave enough to live a life of few regrets. Your testimony of never drinking alcohol tells the world that Christ is powerful enough to fight the temptation. Don’t be ashamed, rather be encouraged that Christ in you is enough to overcome the world.
How can we help wage the war against alcohol abuse?
- Pray That the Lord will give you victory over the temptation to drink alcohol. Pray that the Lord will deliver you for the addiction to alcohol if that is what is needed in your life today. He is able!
- Host Alcohol-free parties for prom and graduation. Make a pledge to each other that no one will drink or bring alcohol to the events.
- Act Never accept a ride from anyone you suspect of being under the influence. No matter how little they may have consumed, always assume it is too much to drive safely.
- Learn Romans 14:21 “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” Commit this verse to memory.
- Be informed Alcoholics-Anonymous.org can give you support groups in your area for anyone suffering from alcohol abuse.
But whatever you do, remember….