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June 2013 | by John Thornbury

The dictionary defines ‘addict’ as ‘to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively’. It gives as one example — addicted to gambling.

Usually we think of an addiction as being dominated by a drug such as alcohol or heroin, but obviously addictions can be psychological as well as spiritual.

A couple of questions: Are addictions always harmful? Why is it so hard to break an addiction? Before we point our fingers at someone with an obviously harmful habit, such as gambling, pornography or drugs, maybe we need to examine ourselves.

Not too long ago, I was watching a sports event, in which, to say the least, I was vitally interested. I noted that I was getting very nervous. My heart was palpitating. Sweat was breaking out on my face and my palms were wet.

I suddenly realised that I was ‘hooked’ on this thing and that actually it could be doing me harm. I noticed also that, when I tried to get away from the TV, I had real withdrawal symptoms.

Perhaps we might ask some questions to determine if an attachment or ‘obsession’ with something is good or bad. First, is it contributing to our overall well-being, physically, psychologically and spiritually? If we are not relaxed and enjoying ourselves in the experience, it may be harmful.

Second, does this thing have such a hold on us that we don’t have the will power to give it up if we decide it is harmful? Third, is our obsession becoming a nuisance to those round about us?

I am certain that there is one ‘addiction’ or ‘obsession’ which is most useful for all of us. I am speaking of being obsessed with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We cannot love God or his Word, the Bible, too much.

We cannot derive too much pleasure and satisfaction from fellowship with him. One well-known preacher, John Piper, has even described himself as a Christian ‘hedonist’, because he boldly advocates not only desiring God but experiencing the ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ that comes by being a believer.

Let us all pray that God — and only God — will have control of our hearts, and that we are submitted fully to him alone.

John F. Thornbury

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