One of the most frequent Lent abstentions is from alcohol, caffeine or chocolate. There is nothing wrong with these abstentions, for all these things can become addictive, and it can be good to ‘de-tox’ from things which would seek to gain first place in our lives.

There are many addictive substances in the world, and most of us would recognise the destructive nature of some of these (including cigarettes and drugs.) The harmful nature of other addictions (to chocolate, caffeine, social media or shopping, for example) is not always as evident. However, we need to understand that anything which takes the place of God and which cannot be given up is an addiction which needs to be removed from our lives. The thing or person does not have to be destructive in itself to cause us problems. It’s all a question of allegiance and alliance. God needs to have first place in our lives or we are not whole people.

We must guard our hearts (see Prov 3:5-6, Prov 4:23) and not allow anything to become addictive and push God from the throne of our lives. This is often easier said than done, but God is able to break every chain which holds us and lead us into freedom. (Gal 5:1)