Hebrews 12:2 (New International Version)
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In a small peninsula in Eastern Newfoundland, in a town called Bonavista, you can visit an exact replica of the Matthew, the sailing ship used by John Cabot when he, in 1497, made his place in history by becoming the first European since the Vikings to discover North America. The tour of the ship was very interesting, rich in history and sailing lore; but perhaps the most fascinating story we heard spoke of how the sailing ships of the 15th century were manned.
In those days, finding enough willing sailors to man a ship could prove to be difficult. Sea voyages were long and dangerous, and many sailors never returned to their homes. If you've never been where you are going, how will you know how to avoid the many dangers your path may bring about?
In order to man their sailing vessels, sea captains had to be creative. Sometimes convicts were granted their freedom in return for their service aboard a sailing vessel. Other times, when really desperate, captains took even harsher measures. Imagine this: You have gone into a tavern for an evening of drink and cards with the guys. While there, a perfect stranger wearing a captain's uniform befriends you:
"Hey mate. Let me buy ye a pin' of beer!"
"Are you talking to me sir?" you ask.
"Aye," answers the captain. "Ye seem a nice lad!"
Surprised, but pleasantly so, you respond with a hearty: "Yes sir! Thank you kindly, sir!"
The trap is set. The captain or his first mate will make sure your mug is always full, but as the night wears on, a strange thing happens to you. First you become a bit dizzy and start sounding like a fool. Then your speech becomes completely slurred, and no one can understand what you are saying. Just a bit more beer, another pint or two, and you pass out.
Victory for the captain!
When you wake up, you find yourself aboard a sailing vessel in the middle of the ocean, with no means to return. You can try to escape, but the consequences are detrimental to your health! You have only one option and two hopes: Your option is to pay the price for the free drinks you received by working for the captain for the duration of the voyage, and your hopes are that the voyage will be short, no more than 6 months, and that there will no killer storms at sea!
Friends, the consequences of intemperance are always disastrous. In our day and age, few wake up from their drunken slumber to find themselves aboard a sailing vessel. However, in our day and age, intemperance can lead to broken marriages, addictions, loss of jobs, loss of friends, loss of savings, and the list goes on. Is it any wonder the Bible warns against intemperance?
You may think that it was not fair that these poor lads were `hired` against their will. But whenever you allow yourself to partake in intemperate behaviour, you hire yourself out to a life of servitude as well. Only instead of serving a sneaky sea captain, you will serve an addiction, which can lead to a life far worse than the one led by these poor lads. Instead of 6 months, your voyage could last the rest of your life!
How can you avoid such a life of slavery? It's simple. Stay focused on Christ.
Dear Lord we pray that we would not get lured into captivity but that we would keep our eyes fixed on You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.