“We are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2: 12, 1 3, NLT).
We end the month and the addictions topic with a biblical gem. In these brief verses, Paul outlines that readers should avoid wickedness and worldly desires and offers a way of avoiding such tendencies by living with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, with the hope of the return of Jesus. The Greek word epitomia presented in 1 Peter 4:2 appears once again. Sexual desire must have been (as it is today) an major problem among the first Christians, as epitomia and its derivatives are listed more than fifty times in the New Testament. It is interesting to note that it includes concepts related to addictions: yearning, eagerness, compulsion, greed and lust. Now we can understand the apostle’s recommendations to combat the problem.
Firstly, we should live with wisdom. Many modern addictions are connected with the overabundance of consumer goods. For example, food addiction increases with food excess; Internet addiction is common when gadgets and Internet connections are available anytime and everywhere. The apostle urges us to live a frugal life, even if we can afford the excess. Thus, we will be protected from insatiable desires.
Secondly, we should live righteously. The practices of justice, equity, equality, generosity, kindness, and forgiveness are part of Christian ethics that surpasses purely human social norms. Many statements of the gospel like «if anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also» (Matthew 5:40), display standards of conduct which are possible only through the love of Jesus. Living this advice will keep us away from sin and addictions.
Thirdly, we should live with devotion to God. A life of close relationship with Jesus, with prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, and individual and group worship will also protect us against sin and any form of addiction.
Lastly, we should do all of the above with hope. Even the non-religious kind of hope is a factor of overall health highlighted in many studies. But when this hope is focused on the «wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.» the coverage is perfect. This is the hope that transforms our desire for the base reward of addictions to an authentic perspective of what it means to be saved by the grace of Lord Jesus.