To use earthly things for their intended, useful purpose is to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. With a desire to make sure everyone knows that Christ is the ultimate solution for every problem, at times Christians can complicate simple problems. It is a good desire to explain and prove that without Christ we can truly do nothing (John 15:5). But the way this works out in real life is often misguided, as well intentioned as it may be.
Every day we face little problems that can turn into big ones. When parents are hungry, they can get extra agitated at their children. When a husband has not had sex with his wife lately, he may be more susceptible to temptation. If a mom has been watching her kids all day, she can get frustrated at herself or others more easily. To solve these problems, we often think we need more spiritual discipline in Christ. We think if we were more connected to Christ, we wouldn’t get angry if we were hungry, we wouldn’t give into temptation, and we would be able to handle a full day with the kids much better.
All of this is true. There is never an excuse to sin, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). So no matter what comes our way, when we seek a solution in Christ, God has promised to give us a way out so we can honor him no matter what.
With that said, this does not mean that God’s solution in Christ will not be amazingly practical sometimes. When Timothy was having stomach problems, Paul didn’t tell him to call the elders to anoint him with oil, although in some cases Paul does recommend this for sick people (James 5:14). Instead, Paul told him to simply drink a little wine. In other words, if you have a headache, sometimes the Holy Spirit may have you bypass calling the church prayer team and he may have you take an Advil. Both actions can be equally Holy Spirit led.
If you are hungry and agitated, God may not lead you to look up all the verses you can about patience or fasting. He may just tell you to go eat some food. Are you mentally dragging even though you have a ton of meetings ahead of you still? Perhaps a tall cup of coffee is sometimes God’s offer of grace to help you pay better attention. Do you have a strong sexual desire? Perhaps if you are married you don’t need to rebuke your sexuality and spend five hours in prayer. Perhaps you need to plan a date night with your spouse and get some action. If your single, maybe the Holy Spirit is saying go on a long run and then take a cold shower followed up by watching a baseball game with friends.
Of course these practical solutions should not replace a genuine, Holy Spirit filled solution. Paul also warns people not to use wine in inappropriate ways. In other words, don’t overdose on the prescription drugs, don’t blame your spouse if she is too tired to have sex, don’t bypass a long prayer session and Bible reading time to get some relief by watching baseball if you really do feel God leading you to spend more time with him.
Use everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Walk with the Holy Spirit, look to Christ for the solution, but don’t be surprised if after he leads you to pray he may also lead you to solve your problem in a really practical way.
We must always walk with God, seeking to hear from his Spirit always, but God is often far more practical than we give him credit for.