Many people think that relapse just happens or that it comes out of nowhere. However, relapse has a very predictable pattern that, if looked at closely, can be seen in most every case. There is always a reason for relapse. There is always a triggering event. There are always triggering events that transpire facilitating the individual to act out on their addictive and destructive habitual behavior.
Relapse does not occur when someone drinks or drugs again or goes back to their destructive behavior. This is the acting out phase of the relapse continuum. Relapse actually begins when we start thinking the old way. We call this stinkin’ thinkin’ in Reformers Unanimous. This type of thinking takes our focus away from our relationship with Jesus Christ and places our priority on self. This type of thinking can be seen in certain thoughts and activities that are described vividly for us in Proverbs chapter 26.
As I studied Proverbs chapter 26, the Lord showed me nine behaviors or attitudes that demonstrate that relapse thinking has in fact begun and that we need God’s intervention before we act out on our addictive behavior. This article will show these nine warning signs with a short description. The answer to stinkin’ thinkin’ is to get our focus back on the Lord and our relationship with Him.
#1 Lack of Restraint
Proverbs 26:3, “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.”
This is when we start thinking we need no rules or regulations in our life. It is when we start questioning God and our God-given authority thinking that we know what is best for us. We all must realize that rules and regulations are a part of everyone’s life. They make us productive and secure. God-given authority is there to facilitate God’s will in our lives. Rules and regulations are there to strengthen our relationship with our Savior. Relapse thinking begins when we start questioning this in our lives.
#2 Be Like Someone Else
Proverbs 26:4, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
This occurs when we want to be like others instead of wanting to be like Jesus Christ. Our primary example in all areas of life should be Jesus Christ. We should be following Him when it comes to our thoughts, our words, and our actions. The more we think like Him, the more we talk like Him, and the more we act like Him the less likely we are to engage in destructive addictive behavior. Beware when we start to find ourselves emulating someone else besides Jesus Christ. Relapse thinking has begun when we start wanting to be something else besides true Christians.
#3 I am Always Right
Proverbs 26:12, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.”
All of us have run into people like this. In every area of life they are an expert. They know all the answers. They are always the teacher and never the student. When we find ourselves falling into this category relapse thinking has begun and acting out on that relapse thinking is just around the corner. The Bible gives us a very strong statement about this type of individual in Proverbs 26:12, “…there is more hope of a fool than of him.”
#4 Half Heartedness
Proverbs 26: 13-15, “The slothful hideth his hand in his bossom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.”
This is an individual that is not fully engaged in their walk with Jesus Christ. They take their spiritual health very casually. This may start off very innocently in the way they think, but it quickly engulfs their entire existence. It penetrates their spiritual, soulical, and physical life. We must find ourselves passionate about our relationship with Him. We are going to follow whatever we are passionate about. Relapse thinking has begun when we find ourselves casually following Christ.
#5 Inability to Face Your Own Faults
Proverbs 26:16, “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
This is when you start blaming others for your problems. It is never your fault. This is the victim mentality we see so common place in our society today. We must take personal responsibility for our lives and our current spiritual, soulical, and physical condition. Others can certainly influence us but we make the decisions that govern our lives. Relapse thinking has begun when we start blame shifting.
#6 Focusing on the Problems of Others While Neglecting Your Own
Proverbs 26: 17-23, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.”
This is when we become so preoccupied with other people’s problems that we neglect to care or clean up our own problems or our own “backyards.” All of us have significant issues in our lives that demand our time and energy. We need to be focusing on our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When we do this we are then able to assist others in their walk with Christ. However, relapse thinking has begun when we spend more time regarding the problems of others than our own problems and our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 26:24, “He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him…”
This not only incorporates hatred toward others but hatred directed at oneself. Many cannot stand themselves. Relapse thinking has started when we start having hateful thoughts towards others and towards ourselves.
#8 Wrong Focus
Proverbs 26:27, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.”
This is when we start focusing on others failing. Many desire for others to fail so that attention will be taken away from their own failures. They say the best way to get the attention off of your own failures is to draw attention to the failure of others. When we are focused on the failure of others it means that our focus is not on our relationship with Jesus. Relapse thinking occurs anytime our focus is directed away from our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 26:28, “A lying tongue hateth those that are affected by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”
We are not only talking about lying to others but also lying to ourselves. We lie to others and to ourselves when we say that everything is okay when it isn’t. When we are having problems but pretend that all is well we generally do not seek out the help we need to resolve our problems.