For One of the Least of These: Visiting Those In the Prison of Addiction

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

At the time a crowd was hearing, “visit those in prison,” the justice system was violently skewed against anyone who seemed to threaten the church or state. Such a person may be hauled off to prison after a flogging or two and left there to die.

Early 1st century prisons in the Roman Empire were not humane. To visit prisoners was to deliver food,  water, clothing, and provide whatever else they may need. It was a high calling and true loyalty.  

Addiction is a compulsive substance or habit use that one continues despite harmful consequences. People trapped in cycles of self-destruction via substance use or habit use,  are prisoners of their minds.  What is often not taken into consideration is the other side of those many stories. Self-medication is a likely backstory to many addictive behaviors.

If it is within our power to do so, treating an addicted person like anyone else (with the exception of enabling the addiction) is kind. Taking food to an addict who isn’t eating, or a blanket or clothes to one who is cold, is loving your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus’ instruction to “Visit those in prison” may today look like hearing them out, hugging them in their dirty clothes, and welcoming them despite strong odors.  

A church my son served in had many such people enter each week. They were not pristine. They did not try to act as if everything was alright. They wore their needs on their sleeves, so to speak. 

They were welcomed, not interrogated. No matter who anyone was, food, clothes, haircuts, and the Word of God were freely and enthusiastically offered. The dress code was basic – wear clothes. 

In visiting the church, I encountered alcoholics, mentally ill people, and people struggling with any number of social discrepancies and lack of skills. 

I also met musicians, hair dressers, good moms and dads, eager youth, and people in recovery. 

They were the same group. 

As this series closes, let us remember WHOM we are loving when we extend compassion to  other people: 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37 

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you … in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.’

The For One of The Least of These series:

Feeding Those Who Hunger for Love       Offering Living Water to Those Who Thirst

Welcoming the Stranger      Covering the Emotionally Naked and Vulnerable

Visiting Those Who Are Sick         Visiting Those In the Prison of Addiction

 

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

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