“Get a mint before hitting the lobby.”

breathsaversThat advice to a younger version of me came from a younger version of one of my mentors.  It was short and to the point: before hitting the lobby and getting within inches from someone’s nose, ensure your breath isn’t gnarly from being thirsty from teaching.

I’m fairly certain the guests and newcomers to our church services would thank him for the advice I follow to this day: get a mint before hitting the lobby.

There are many things I love about the Bible.  One is its relevance to life.  In our study in leadership from the Apostle Paul to his protégé Timothy as inspired by the Holy Spirit and recorded in 1 Timothy, we have one of those plainly relevant statements to life.

In 1 Timothy 5:23 we read:

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine
because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.  

1 Timothy 5:23
New International Version

It doesn’t get much more practical than that, does it?

wine glass oneFirst, let’s deal with this right up front: “wine”.  Wonderful, Godly, Bible-believing Christians have fallen on different sides of the issue of alcohol use for Christians.  But let’s be clear what Paul is saying here about wine; because I’ve heard Christians who teach abstinence from alcohol nearly rewrite this verse so as not to betray their camp.

It’s wine.  Alcoholic wine.  It’s not grape juice.  It’s not such a low alcohol volume as to not be considered “alcohol” by modern standards.  Drinking wine was a part of the ancient world.  Wine is still part of our world.  Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, not grape juice (cf. John 2:1-11).

Okay, the “sideshow” is out of the way.  Let’s dig into the point of this counsel.  One of the problems Timothy was dealing with in Ephesus was false teachers who insisted that Godliness required abstinence from certain foods (cf. 1 Timothy 4:3).

Considering what we can reasonably discern from 1 (and 2) Timothy, it’s possible Timothy avoided wine because of its potential offense to these false teachers.  And it was making him sick.  Whatever “frequent illnesses” Timothy had they were exaggerated by the (often polluted) water he was drinking.

Paul is telling Timothy to take some medicine for his health problems and stop just drinking water—the water was the problem!  He wasn’t telling his young mentee to become a slave to alcohol or to get drunk (both forbidden in Scripture).  Paul was telling him to take care of himself.

treadmillThe stress of church leadership is hard on our bodies.  We shouldn’t make it even harder by not taking care of ourselves.  Part of our responsibility to our congregations is keeping ourselves healthy enough to discharge the duties of the office.

Whether it’s a mint for rancid breath, more water to address dehydration, wine for our hearts, exercise for our overall health, eating enough vegetables, or something else, I believe Paul would tell us the same thing he told Timothy: take care of the vessel your soul rides around in.

Therefore, take time to care for yourself; it’s as important as anything else on your to-do list.

And…get a mint before hitting the lobby.





Interested in more like this?  Consider Joel’s book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs.  Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, Joel walks readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life.  The goal?  Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.


Joel has a podcast!  Addressing church leadership issues, Joel dissects what he’s been taught and experienced.  Subscribe below.Podcast Title Graphic


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