“No one who simply eats or drinks when he feels like eating or drinking or smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, or gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated, can consider himself a free person. He has renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse. Therefore his mind and his will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his appetites, and through the medium of his appetites they are under the control of those who gratify his appetites.”-Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation
I would say that for most of us there are things that we apparently cannot live without. I instantly think of the helpful words from the gospel of Matthew,
“But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:23-25).
When we cannot control our own body and our impulses, and when we are not able to simply say no to certain things, we become slaves not to God but to ourselves. Although this passage is talking about money I would say that the same could be said for other aspects of life. You cannot serve both God and ____ fill in the blank. What is it that you are serving and giving greater importance to over God?
If you had to sit down and look at your life and how you spend each day what are the things you spend the most time on and really enjoy? Now these things do not have to be evil in fact in most cases these things are perfectly fine and maybe even healthy. Much like money, the money itself is not evil but most times lead to evil due to our obsession over it! So if for example you find yourself not being able to go a week or possibly even a day without something there may be a problem or an indication that you cannot control your own bodily impulses as Merton describes. Could you go a week without internet, video games, movies, television, beer, or spending money? None of these things are necessarily wrong, however if you cannot stop yourself from going a week without it, then it can be very wrong! Asking this question can be a very helpful way to figure out where our heart is at.
At the same time there are obvious things that are apart of our lives that are clearly wrong and need to be stopped altogether. Things like over eating, getting drunk, and watching porn (among many other things) need to be taken right out of our lives.
So my challenge for you is to consider what you figure you cannot go without and go without it for even a week. See who is charge, you and God or you and your body! 1 2 3 GO!