Don't Be an Enabler

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Don't Be an Enabler

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Wired has an interesting and kind of disturbing piece up about the top one percent of mobile games customers. These “whales” as the companies call them drop outrageous amounts of coin on in-app purchases. One gentleman “whale” who preferred to keep his name private said he was shocked to discover he spent $16,000 in one month playing his favorite mobile game.

I was planning on writing about this from the perspective of balance and moderation. After all, it’s a clear case of one aspect of life (and in this case, one very trivial aspect) gaining too much influence over a person’s entire life’s priorities. Millions of people struggle with addictions, and mobile games addiction is neither any better nor any worse than any other sort of addiction that takes over your life. But reading the comments I noticed a trend that was far more disturbing than stories of social-game-amassed debt.

“It’s their money. Who cares what they spend it on?”

“It’s their right to spend it on what other people might consider to be a waste.”

“Hey, if they make enough money and get enjoyment from it, then good for them!”

What nice, understanding people, right? Let’s look at it from another perspective. Say these guys were spending this much time and money on drugs or alcohol instead of Facebook games. Would we still be inclined to say, “No big deal…it’s their life!”? Especially in the case of the gentleman known by the game handle as “Spoon” it’s clear that he wasn’t even aware of how serious his situation had gotten. He was visibly shaken to find out he spent so much money in a month. He clearly has a problem and needs help.

We are a society of enablers. Instead of helping our brothers and sisters overcome addictions, sins and personal problems, we brush them off as “personal choices.” Under the false banner of tolerance we sit idly and watch our friends, family and society slowly waste away physically, mentally and spiritually. People who are hurting themselves with bad choices don’t need condescending acceptance, they need true loving help to overcome and change.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome that they needed to “admonish” or “warn strongly” their brothers and sisters to do good and strive to overcome (Romans 15:14). In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 he said we should warn those who are struggling and encourage them. This is a far cry from enabling the addictions, sins and personal problems that consume people’s lives.

Don’t be an enabler. If you see someone you love involved in destructive or negative behavior, show your love by encouraging them to overcome and never give up the struggle. Don’t let our cynical and enabling society fool you—you truly are your brother’s keeper.


  • Jnon Whitlark
    I think you are spot on in this assessment. We want to respect people's privacy, or responsibility to make their choices to a point. But if we see someone hurting themselves or others through their choices, at what point do we step in and address it in a really loving, humble way--or is that approach even effective all the time? At what point does it become "our problem," too? And I ask these questions knowing that there's no pat answer--it will vary depending on personalities, relationships, and so many factors. What I find so difficult is the "how" of doing this--because, frankly, we don't want to get in other people's "business." Either out of respect for their privacy or because we're scared of conflict or damaging the relationship. Well, maybe some people do like digging into other people's business for sport, but I don't actually want those folks to be the ones in mine--it will make correction so much harder to accept. I'd much rather intervention come from someone who finds it really difficult, but is willing to do it because they really have love for me. Thanks for writing, Milan. Very interesting and relevant.
  • dziwczyna
    I enjoyed your article. How true that we avoid helping others. Dr. Donald Ward gave a sermon recently, where he ended with that thought--that we truly are our brother's keeper. It's definitely not easy to best know the way to approach certain situations, even after praying about it.
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