Addiction can manifest itself in many ways. It begins with an attraction to something that eventually creates an attachment. After awhile, this attachment can consume our hearts, minds, and senses. Thus, we become addicts. We crave it – desire it – covet it. Some mistakingly restrict addiction to a substance like drugs and alcohol. In reality, addiction is much more expansive. It can consume us in the form of perfectionism, ambition, pleasure, work, etc. All of these things of course carry positive connotations, unlike substance abuse. Yet, they can be just as lethal to our relationships, health, finances, and overall welfare if we become addicted to them:
Praises: Who doesn’t like to be praised? We all appreciate the proverbial “pat on the back”. However, what happens when we seek to receive the approval of others at all costs. Sound radical? We see politicians, businesses, entertainers, workers, and leaders do this all the time in order to keep profits rolling, products selling, and polls rising. We may call this compromise, but isn’t that what addicts do? Comprise long term value in the most important things like integrity, honor, and dignity for the short-term fix?
Positions: Success can be defined in many ways, but one of the most prevalent and acceptable is climbing the ladder of success. This means we are recognized as successful by the positions and prominence we hold. Thus, this is a subtle trap many of us can fall into. I surely did. In fact, I was blindly sacrificing my health, and neglecting precious time with my family in order to devote more energy to my work – to ensure I was the first, the best, and the ultimate corporate success. This can also be known as being a “workaholic”, and not the badge of honor we want to live our life for.
Possessions: We know about materialism, but rarely want to identify ourselves with it. We simply say we like “nice” things. However, there is often a deeper reason behind our passionate pursuits of treasures. We falsely assume our self worth is tied to our net worth. I recall a time I routinely flew in first-class, stayed at exclusive 5 star resorts, and earned extravagant bonus checks. Yet, as I looked around me – I was completely alone. I was always on the road and had no one I deeply cared for to share it. Ultimatley, as B.B. King once said – the thrill was gone. All of it, no matter how nice it was, held no lasting meaning other than to feed my pride and vanity. It was chasing after the wind.
Application: Check for Parasites – Philippians 2:3
Clearly, ambition is not a negative thing. Jesus is extremely ambitious. For He desires that no one should perish – but His ambition is holy. Alternatley, if we’re honest – much of our ambition can be selfish and worldly. The total opposite of holy. However, we don’t need to be too hard on ourselves. For we are living in this world. Just like a camper goes out into the woods, his home is someplace else. Likewise, we go out into the world and pick up these unsightly things, but like the camper checks for ticks, so must we. There are spiritual parasites just like there are physical ones, and we must check for them and then remove them. Let us consider – is our ambition harboring any addictions?