I’m reading by JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. One of the most compelling themes is the Ring itself. It possesses its owner by generating a psychotic jealousy. Many desire the ring and are willing to do anything to have it. One particularly loathsome character, Gollum, calls the Ring “My Precious”.
It makes me recall the rings in my life. I remember when I used to smoke cigarettes. I cut way back after a while, but I still smoked one before bedtime. Just one.
Meanwhile, I would preach the dangers of tobacco to my children. I was so desperate to have that smoke that I would hurry my children anxiously or even aggressively to bed. The Marlboro Man waited for me. But it’s just one lousy smoke, what’s the big deal? Beyond the fact that even just one cigarette per day significantly increases the risk of heart and lung disease, there was a deeper problem. It was my Precious.
The rings in our lives make us behave irrationally. We spit in the eye of reason. Rather than rely on God’s grace, we hobble around on a crutch. The drinker or addict convinces him or herself that they can handle it. They convince themselves of this every day. And – speaking from personal experience – they might even convince themselves that God has cured them of their alcohol problem to justify their weekend-only beer drinking.
The ring can morph into very wicked forms. One subtle but very real danger for the Christian is the desire to be the one that does/creates good rather than being an instrument of good or letting good happen on its own. The overwhelming desire to prove a point is many a Christian’s Precious as well.
We are much better off tending the sheep.
A Gollum lives in each and every one of us. Some are more obvious than others. But he’s there sniveling and plotting how to protect his Precious no matter what the cost. He hurts himself. He hurts others. Just so long as he can keep his Precious nothing else matters. Pride and shame drive us into oblivion.
We might reduce these rings, we might whittle them down so as to appear non-existent upon casual observation. But minimization is not the same as eradication. As long as they live within us we are at risk of transforming into a blood thirsty Gollum.
The only way to purge ourselves is honesty. It appears terrifying and exasperates us. What will I do without my Precious?
Examine your conscience. Admit your problem. Then grab it by the neck and yank it out by the root. God will never force you to be healed, but He will never turn you away either. Recognize the Ring, and let it be cast into the fiery pit. Let God’s healing fire consume it and obliterate it. Be free.