Drugs and the Young
by Gene Taylor
A recent study concluded that drug use among the young people of this country is dramatically on the increase. The most alarming statistic cited is that the use of illegal drugs by children ages nine through twelve has doubled in recent years.
It seems that not only are we losing the “war on drugs” but we are losing our children. I saw a news report where a father wept openly over the death of his 16 year old son — an honor student who went to worship every Sunday — but who overdosed on drugs.
This problem is not just an inner city problem. One public service announcement on television says that 40% of all drug use among children is by inner city children. It then asks the question, “Where do you think the other 60% is found?” The answer is obvious — in every place big and small, in every strata of society, children are not only experimenting with illegal drugs but are using them on a regular basis including hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Many factors contribute to this escalation. Some have suggested that many parents are to blame. The parents of “generation X” are those “baby-boomers” who in the 60’s “tuned in, turned on, and dropped out.” It is said that because of their own experimentation with and regular use of drugs they not only set a poor example for their own children but also have been hesitant to discipline them for using drugs, especially marijuana.
Others say society in general is responsible. From high governmental officials who admit their recreational use of drugs, to lawmakers and lobbyists who advocate legalizing marijuana and other such substances, children get the feeling that drug use is not that bad. I saw a program on TV that was exploring substance abuse among teens where one young girl justified her use of marijuana by saying, “It’s not so bad. Like, I’m not ruining my life. President Clinton smoked it and he still became president.” Movie and television celebrities speak openly of their drug use. Many musicians, and not just rock musicians, use drugs illegally and even advocate their use in songs heard on the radio and MTV. These are the “idols” of our children.
Some children succumb because of peer pressure. They want to be popular or just “fit in” with everyone else. And never discount the “thrill of rebellion.” Some just want to do what they are told not to do just so that, in addition to the “high” they get from the drug, they get the “high” of doing something they know they shouldn’t do.
Don’t think your children are immune to these things. A survey conducted a little over ten years ago in Leon County said that 46% of all Leon County high school seniors admitted to using marijuana; 20% acknowledged using it regularly — before, during and after school. If our community has followed the national trend, those statistics are no longer accurate — they are probably way too low.
The Bible condemns the abuse of body and mind (1 Cor. 6:19-20) It warns against habituation and addiction (1 Cor. 6:12). We need to be teaching our children its principles. We need to be educating them and warning them about the dangers, both physical and spiritual, in substance abuse.
We are so blessed to have so many children. Let us do all we can to keep them safe and to bring them up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Edify One Another
At the close of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he exhorted them to “edify one another” (1 Thes. 5:11). The word “edify” comes from the Greek word oikodomeo. This word occurs thirty-nine times in the original text, and all except eight times it is translated as “build” or “built.” Our Lord chose to use this word in Matthew 7:24 when He spoke of the wise man who “built his house on the rock.”
The idea Paul had in mind was that Christians should “build” one another up in the faith. After defining the word, Thayer comments that it is “the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, happiness” (Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, p. 440). W. E. Vine said the word is “used metaphorically, in the sense of ‘edifying’, promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by teaching or by example, suggesting such spiritual progress as the result of patient labor.” (Expository Dictionary Of Biblical Words, p. 194).
One of the highest duties that a Christian has is to encourage others. In a world filled with pessimism, violence, and despair, our need for encouragement is great. It is all too easy to let the “ways of the wicked” become our ways. The happy man is the one who refuses to “stand in the path of sinners” or “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psa. 1:1)
After a week of listening to the gripes and complaints of this sin-sick world, Christians should look forward to an isle of retreat on the Lord’s day. A place where the name of God is blessed, not cursed. A place where we can enjoy the “seasons of refreshing” which only God can provide (Acts 3:19).
It is truly a shame the Christians do not spend more time in each other’s company. The Hebrew writer bids us to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). After the command, he tells us how it is to be accomplished, i.e., “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25).
In the days of Haggai, the people of God grew discouraged while working to rebuild the temple. God commanded them to get back to work, then gave them comfort by saying, “I am with you, says the Lord of hosts” (Hag. 2:4). Consider what it meant for those Jews to whom Haggai spoke to know the Lord was with them. Surely they could remember the stories of how Jehovah had been with their fathers as they passed through the Red Sea. They knew that God had “led them by the hand” through the wilderness on their way to Canaan. In view of God’s goodness, how could they doubt Him now?
In a similar vain, Jesus has promised to be “in the midst” of His disciples when they assemble (Matt. 18:20). What a thought! The Son of God in our midst every Lord’s day. He has also promised to be with us as we carry out the great commission (Matt. 28:20). Do you desire to be in the presence of the Lord and His people?
As we run our race toward eternal glory, let us continually encourage each other and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1,2).
By David Padfield