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Did you hear the news? Mexico recently surpassed the United States as being the #1 overweight nation in the world. Some celebrated, some immediately started blaming the U.S. I don’t know, it seems like these days the U.S never gets a break. Look, in my book, if Mexicans decide to eat at McDonald’s or Burger King, it is their decision and theirs alone. Just like the overabundance of church buildings does not make one a regular churchgoer, the proliferation of fast food chains does not create overweight people. In the end, we all have a choice to make, don’t we?

So as we continue on our series in Proverbs this Sunday, I will talk about life’s pleasures. This topic illustrates how anyone can prove just about anything from the Bible, even apparently contradictory statements. For example, the wise man says to his son, “Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13). In other words, “Go ahead, eat that chocolate!” (honey was the equivalent of chocolate those days!). But over in the next chapter, he seems to change his tune, “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!” (Proverbs 25:16). A contradiction? Of course not. Rather, one completes the other: There is nothing bad with liking a little chocolate, but don’t like it too much or it will make you sick. Or, as I like to say it, “it will make you thick!”

The Bible condemns the excesses of both drinking and eating, but it doesn’t disparage or disdain either outright. In fact, Paul said that God is the one who richly gives us all things for us to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). But life’s pleasures are for our enjoying, not for our loving. Proverbs makes it plain that when we go from “enjoying” to “loving” pleasures, we’ve crossed the line: “Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.” (Proverbs 21:17).

There are so many cautions in Scriptures regarding drinking. We are to be drunk with the spirit but not with wine. Even in the Old Testament, those who were consecrated to God via the priesthood, were never to touch alcohol. Those who took the Nazarite vows were banned from drinking strong drinks. Paul encouraged Timothy to drink some wine, only because of his many illnesses (the water in those days, and still in some parts of the world today was so unreliable). Proverbs 20, 21 and 23 are replete with cautionary tales about drinking. Chapter 23 even recounts with detailed accuracy the psyche, the process and the steps of the person who is prone to drink too much.

Now, my role as a pastor is not to tell people whether they should drink or not. I am not the Holy Spirit and I don’t know your situation. The best I can do is try to put before you what I believe the Scriptures teach. Now, it is obvious that there are some people out there who should never touch an alcoholic beverage in their lives. There are others to whom a glass of wine at dinner is just like another dish and they never think anything of it. All, however, should understand the extreme caution with which the author of Proverbs approaches the subject of drinking. No one should ever think himself or herself immune from temptation in this area. We should all watch less we fall.

Just this week I became aware of four stories related to intoxicated people doing things that resulted in injuries to others. One was a near fatality. One was a very close call to some friends of mine who live in North Carolina whose whole family was nearly hit by a drunk driver on the road. And there are countless, ever sadder stories out  there that I didn’t hear about this week.

So my advice to you is: enjoy the pleasures of life but never allow your lives to be ruled by them. God is watching and He is the One to whom we will give an account on judgment day.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade