Americans like to drink. When ranked against all the other countries in the world, we consume more alcohol per capita than 75% of the world. This works out to about 9 liters of alcohol consumed per American each year. For some Americans, alcohol is a major problem. 24 million Americans (10% of adults) consume a staggering 74 drinks per week. This is a little more than 10 drinks every single day or more than two bottles of wine every day. This drinking has costs. Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This doesn’t include the negative impacts on health and the well-being of families.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming alcohol. We know that Jesus drank (Matthew 11:19) and that he provided alcohol to others (John 2:1–11). Scripture refers to wine positively on numerous occasions (Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7). We are even told that there will be wine in heaven (Isaiah 25:6)!
But Scripture also cautions us about our consumption of alcohol. It warns us that there is a clear line between drinking and getting drunk. Drunkenness in the Bible is a sin (Proverbs 20:1; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21). It is not funny or “not a big deal” to God. Drunkenness has consequences.
Paul writes, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). As I said earlier, there is absolutely no prohibition against consuming alcohol. But I wonder, are we as thirsty for God as we are for alcohol? Do we plan and set aside time to be filled with God’s Spirit? Or do we just plan our drinking with friends and family?
Many of us, I fear, turn to alcohol to numb pain, stress, and anxiety. We quickly reach for a bottle of beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day to try and get rid of the stress we still fear. We think we need it to relax. This week, instead of reaching for that glass, I encourage you to reach for the Lord. Below is one of the most ancient prayers of the Church. It is a prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instead of drinking alcohol this week, pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.