Addiction specialists tell us that one hit of crack or meth can cause a rewiring of the brain and a lifelong addiction. One moment the individual is enjoying meaningful relationships and pursuing their goals in life. The next moment nothing matters but finding that next fix. Family no longer matters. Friends no longer matter. Dreams no longer matter. Pleasing God no longer matters. Before and after pictures of addicts show the devastation of drugs as users experience accelerated aging, hair loss, sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, and rotted teeth. Addiction is not a pretty picture.
Most Christians will never face the risk of domination that comes with taking that first hit of crack or meth, but they do flirt with a spiritual drug just as dangerous and addictive. That drug is called strife. I have witnessed solid Christian people make the decision to take a hit of this spiritual crack to nurse a wound or offense not realizing they will spend perhaps the rest of their lives serving that strife. In many ways, the drug of strife is the worst drug of all because it becomes more potent the longer it is in your system. As illicit drugs make a person look hideous on the outside over time, the drug of strife makes a person look hideous on the inside.
To be in strife is to be at war with another person in one’s heart characterized by conflict, discord, antagonism, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Paul warned Timothy about the dangers of strife declaring, “The servant of the Lord must not be in strife” (2 Timothy 2:24). The person in strife is actually taken captive by the devil to do his will. He captivates our lives, our hearts, our time, our thoughts, our energy, our faith, our perception, our relationships, and our destiny. James said, “For where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Strife, just like crack or meth, opens our lives to a world of destruction and devastation.
It is, however, possible to protect yourself from spiritual crack. First, count the cost of potential addiction because no one expects to become a strife addict. Second, guard your heart so that when the opportunity to get in strife comes, you have the power to just say no. Third, reject your pride because pride, not a pipe, is the delivery system that gets strife into our system. Fourth, practice mercy and forgive quickly because slow forgiveness increases the likelihood of strife. Finally, stay away from strife pushers or those who peddle strife like some peddle drugs. It is hard to believe that any Christian would want to get another believer addicted to spiritual crack, but it happens all the time. My college roommate kept a bag of various drugs in his closet to sell to students who knocked on our door all hours of the night. I couldn’t move out and away from the pusher fast enough. Believers need to do the same with the peddlers of spiritual crack.