Dying Before Your Time

By Frank Jamerson

The sports world was shocked recently by the death of Lyn Bias, the University of Maryland basketball star who had been drafted number one by the Boston Celtics. He had taken cocaine, and though he was in good health and according to the autopsy, the amount of cocaine in his system was “average,” he is dead!

One sports writer asked several questions that I think are worthy of our consideration. (1) Why would Bias want to take the drug in the first place? Here is a guy fixing to make a living with his body, so (2) Why endanger that body with a mind-altering drug that has been proven to erode physical performance? (3) Why “celebrate” with a life-threatening drug? He surely had heard of the risks associated with that drug.

The wise writer of Ecclesiastes asked a similar question -many years ago. He said: “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Eccl. 7:17) He is not saying that a little wickedness is all right, but is condemning the idea that man can continue in wickedness without suffering the consequences. Because God is longsuffering, some think “God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it” (Psa. 10:11). Wickedness often leads to men dying before their time. Lyn Bias is just one example of this. The state of Maryland has come into special scrutiny because of his death. It has been revealed that in the last three years at least sixteen have died from the same drug. How many others have “died before their time,” by the use of cocaine, or other such drugs, no one knows.

The question that I continually ask is: Why will those who know the possible consequences of drug experimentation “try it” anyway? Why will even those who are children of God endanger their lives and their souls just to see if there is a thrill in it? Not everyone who “tries it once,” will suffer the same consequence as Lyn Bias, but what could they possibly gain from the experiment?

We may ask the same question about many other sins. Why would a person who knows right from wrong and the possible consequences of fornication engage in that practice? Is it the same reason that Lyn Bias took cocaine? In describing the ways of a harlot, the writer of Proverbs said: “He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks (punishment devices); . . . Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Prov. 7:22-27). Many young people have forfeited their purity and the profound privilege of giving themselves totally to the one they marry because they wanted to “try it once.” Many married men and women have forfeited the life of happiness and trust that they may have had because they wanted to be like Lyn Bias – “try it once.” Sins can be forgiven, but their consequences are inevitable. They may not be as drastic as death, but there are always consequences of sin.

Why will people who know the truth try alcoholic drinks? Is their life enriched in some mysterious way by saying “I’ve tried it”? When those who have tried it tell us the consequences, must we say, “Well I am going to try it myself”? Will those who heard of the death of Lyn Bias say, “I don’t know whether a normal dose of cocaine will kill me”? Can we not learn from the experiences of others, or must we make all the mistakes ourselves?

Solomon has been called “the human guinea pig.” He gave his “heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven” (Eccl. 1:13). After he had tried it all, he said: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Prov. 10:27).

The service of sin is always vain because of the loss of happiness both here and hereafter. You do not have to “try it once” to know this!

Guardian of Truth XXX: 19, p. 594
October 2, 1986