Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today. This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament. By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws. One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law. This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.
This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal. Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father. In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years. Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers. Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters. The first person to enter the pool was healed. Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new. The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.
And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.
In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God. Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why. This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle. Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion. Today, similar rules have been established by government officials. Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost. To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray? In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.
by Jay Mankus