I love to read. As a girl, immersed in a book, I would ignore my mother’s voice calling me to set the table for supper. This would usually get me into trouble.
Interesting how I sometimes ignore my Father’s voice when I am reading a good book now. His call is a whisper to my soul: “This is a good place to stop and savor what you’ve read.”
Sometimes, I plow ahead with my book anyway. This gets me into all kinds of trouble. When I begin to binge-read, I glut my sense of pleasure in my book. I can’t savor the words when I’m speeding on ahead, and I often can’t remember those parts of the book very well.
If I keep reading, I might be late fixing supper for my family. Now that has never happened before (ha). If I read on and on into the night, it is a proven fact that I will be cranky and short-tempered with my loved ones or co-workers the next day – not Christ-like.
Losing the pure joy
I don’t enjoy the time I spend apart from God’s close fellowship. The pure joy of doing things His way is lost. I hurt others with my selfish behavior. So, why do I binge? After all these years of following Jesus, is it because I still think I know more about what’s best for me than He does?
It seems that somewhere deep inside there are times I want what I want when I want it, no matter what He says. This saddens me. Thankfully, my sadness is a sign of His Holy Spirit alive in me!
The Holy Spirit is the One who can get me out of trouble. Not by changing the consequences, but by changing me inside. In Ephesians 5:18, God commands us: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control; dissipation is wastefulness or excess. When we get drunk we lose control. Getting “wasted” is an appropriate description.
Too much ANYTHING
We can apply this verse to other areas besides drinking too much wine. We can get “drunk,” or binge, on too much reading, too much watching, too much eating, too much gaming, too much social media, too much anything, and waste away the life Christ died to give us. How terribly sad. How convicting.
Yes, we should take time to rest. Yes, there were feasts in the Bible. But they had a beginning and an end. When we choose the “fun” of going too long, too far or too much, we fall in with the enemy’s plans. He wants to cheat us of the pride and joy we feel when we exercise self-control and the greater self-esteem and inner strength that follow.
If I make a habit of bingeing in any area, I will end up with less time or effectiveness for my primary task: dreaming, praying, planning and working toward fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). This is the job Jesus gave all His followers – to go, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all He commanded us.
“Little” sins repeated
Our enemy wants nothing better than to dull, slow or stop our witness by tempting us to over-indulge in entertainment, food or anything else. Reading a good book for too long doesn’t seem too serious. We may think it is just a “little” sin. But ignoring God’s voice is not a little sin.
“Little” sins repeated can keep me from a lifetime of God’s wonderful plans for me and the people He wants to bless through me. I don’t want to ignore His voice. And I really don’t want to miss what He has to say. It will lead to something far better than I could ever read or dream up.
So, what are some ways to keep from bingeing on “little,” culturally acceptable sins, and instead to live consistently in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit?
- Sometimes I have gone slowly through Dr. Bill Bright’s message, “Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-filled Life?” I look up every verse, confess my sins, surrender my life to God, and once again appropriate the filling of the Spirit by faith. At times when I confess my sins, I do what is suggested in Dr. Bright’s longer exposition of this topic in his excellent Transferable Concepts. I make a list of my sins as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind, write 1 John 1:9 across it, and burn it (or somehow get rid of it!), to symbolize God’s forgiving and forgetting of those sins.
- It helps me to be accountable to close friends. Do you have trustworthy people you can share your struggle with? Knowing I’ll have to tell my friends about giving in to a temptation is sometimes just enough to keep me from doing it. Ask your friends to pray for you and check back with you regularly about how you are doing.
- Late-night choices to read or eat can trip me up. I am weaker when I am tired. Sometimes it has helped me to give myself a 9 p.m. curfew for both of those activities. Maybe an evening deadline will help you.
- As I described in “A 3,000-Year-Old Conversation Taught Me About Holding My Husband in Weighty Esteem,” you can keep a sticky note on the current page in your journal, or a daily reminder on your phone, to remind you to pray and be faithful in the area you’re struggling with.
- Take each “little” sin seriously. Think, pray and journal about the consequences of continuing in that sin. Ask God to show you how to make a new, life-giving habit that honors Him in its place.
Oh Lord, You are worthy of every “sacrifice” I might make to follow You closely. Help me not to binge-read, binge-watch, binge-eat, binge-anything. I don’t want to waste the time or opportunities You give me. Remind me that being filled with Your Spirit leads to my greatest joy and the world’s greatest good. Help me obey Your quiet voice when You call – the first time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Is there an area in your life where you have been bingeing? What will you do about it?
If you haven’t discovered life in Christ, don’t hesitate to check it out. Life is too short to miss His love and perfect plan for you. Read About “The Nearness of God” or see everyperson.com for more information. You can also read my story of coming to faith in Christ: How My Song Began.
Photo credit: Johnny McClung on Unsplash