Posted by: everynation | September 17, 2007

Discipleship & Marlboro cigarettes

by Joey Bonifacio

joey.jpgFor over 20 years I have been involved with making disciples through relationships. In that time I have encountered men who were ardent smokers.

Three men come to mind as I write this post. The first was an old friend whom I grew up with. The second was a business associate and the third was a man whom I met in church when he received the Lord. Each one was a smoker.

As I spent time with these men I would see them smoke their favorite brand (Marlboro) with no inhibitions. I made sure that while we shared about the things of God I did not focus on their smoking habit.

Whenever they asked me if there was anything wrong with smoking, my usual response was – the Bible does not say anything about it. What the Bible does say is that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such we should be good stewards of our bodies.

In other words if you know for certain that smoking was going to be harmful to your body you would do well to stay away from them. That means overeating unhealthy food is just as sinful as smoking.

While I presented this truth I never made a big deal about it. The reason why is simple: I was not after their external behavior. I was concerned with their hearts being drawn to God. I was convinced that if they loved God with all their hearts and obeyed His word they will one day get a revelation about their bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit.

Discipleship is never about external behavior but is achieved by first having a relationship with others and then introducing them into a personal, active, vibrant and daily relationship with God and with other believers. As they grow in those relationships they will willingly drop their sinful habits.

Today all 3 of these men are serving God and have hearts that are drawn to Him. My friend is now a lay pastor in the city of Cebu and is deeply involved in rescue and relief missions. My business associate has since become a full time pastor and is on his way to become a cross cultural missionary. And the man at church is a successful businessman who loves God and is a disciple maker himself. Non of them smoke cigarettes anymore.

Often I wonder what could have happened if I focused on getting these men to stop smoking rather teaching them to love God with all their hearts and love their neighbors as themselves?

Joey Bonifacio — aka “The Wizard of Blog” — is the senior pastor of VCF-Fort Bonifacio in Manila, Philippine and the author of Discipleship is Relationship and Joey’s Prayer Site.


  1. Joey, this is a great example. The inward change always produces outward fruit, fruit of the Spirit and not the strength of the flesh. Some people have stronger will power and while relying on that they often fail horribly in another area. Thanks for the simple yet profound insight. Very useful.

  2. Great stuff Pastor Joey. We all need these reminders.

  3. Pastor Joey, you’re absolutely correct to speak about having a right relationship with Jesus first then everything follows. Its a come as you are party.

  4. I totally agree bro. I work with many smokers too. Aside from that, there are quite a number of gays and lesbians. When they ask me if its sin to be gay or lesbian, i just tell them Jesus loves them as much as everyone else.

  5. Hi Joey

    Great blog. It is ALWAYS internal to external. It stems with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Change is always permanent when we leave it up to God to change us.

  6. I totally agree! :) Self-control will come naturally when the fruit of the holy spirit manifests in our lives. We don’t even have to do anything. We will just wake up one day not having the desire to smoke (and all our other addictions included). But this is not a magic formula – we still need to rely on God’s grace daily – from glory to glory. :)

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