Reputation is the most important thing for those who desire to have a positive influence on others in the world today. Sexual scandal, family dysfunction and inflexibility in relationships mar that reputation in many ways. Another area of life that is in constant review by other believers and the world at large is the consumption of alcohol.

God has called all Christians to be committed to His mastery, His ministry as well as His message. Just as Israel was to be the example in the world of a healthy, happy society living under the guidelines of God’s Word, so too are believers today. God always held Israel to a higher standard because he expected them to be a “light” in a dark world. In the community of Israel he also called those with special functions, the priests and the political leaders, to even higher standards than the general populace. He said to the priests, “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you may not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations” (Lev. 10:9). He speaks to kings and leaders about the wisdom of abstinence as well. He says, “It is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4–5).

Alcohol has destroyed the reputation of many solid Christians. The Bible doesn’t command total abstinence, but it does emphasize it. Though our Lord Jesus drank wine while here on earth, He is today a “total abstainer.” Wiersbe points out, “People who claim Jesus as their example in social drinking, and even point out that He turned water into wine, should take Luke 22:18 into consideration: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” Alcohol advertisements show the beautiful, successful people enjoying life with their product. But I’ve seen firsthand where alcohol destroyed families, marriages, bodies, minds as well as careers. Longtime baseball coach and manager Connie Mack said “alcohol had no more place in the human body than sand had in the gas tank of an automobile. Alcohol is a narcotic, not a food; it destroys, not nourishes.” I’ve found the best way to avoid destroying our reputation is not to drink at all. I read a proverb that said, “First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.”

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1