Author: David Causey, USA (Ret.)

Sailors organize medications at Tuanekivale medical site in Tonga.. Photo by Official U.S. Navy Page is licensed under CC By 2.0

A team of investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT recently made an unsettling discovery. It seems that the “inactive ingredients” of many oral medications contain substances which can cause adverse and allergic reactions in people.

Wrong Meds

Certainly, inactive ingredients are additives to medications (usually pills) which are not intended to have any therapeutic effect. Pharmaceutical companies add them to assist in the absorption of the medication into the body. They may also improve the taste and shelf-life of the medication.

The team of researchers examined 42,052 oral medications that contained more than 354,597 inactive ingredients. What did they discover? More than 90 percent of oral medications contain at least one ingredient that can cause allergic or gastrointestinal symptoms in sensitive individuals. These ingredients include lactose, peanut oil, gluten, and chemical dyes.

Moreover, to complicate matters, one medication may come with a variety of different inactive ingredients. It all depends on which pharmaceutical company manufactures it. The study’s purpose was to alert these companies to the unintended adverse reactions their products may cause.

It’s unfortunate that a life-saving medicine might become unpalatable or indigestible because of an “inactive” ingredient. But it reminded me of something in the spiritual realm.

The Great Physician

Think about it. Every Christian believer possesses a soul-saving medicine—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It cured them. It saved their souls. Paul the apostle testified that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). In addition to this, every believer has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Great Physician (Exodus 15:26). Therefore, it behooves every believer to share the light of Christ with those in spiritual darkness.

But just as life-saving medication can come with some intolerable inactive ingredients, many Christians can unintentionally put a bad taste to the Gospel. Just ask any waiter or waitress about their experience on a Sunday afternoon. As churchgoers crowd restaurants, employees are often subjected to the bad behavior and stinginess of Christians. Rude, obnoxious, and tactless Christians are like thorns that get in the way of the fruit. Maybe a benediction at the conclusion of worship isn’t enough. Maybe pastors should also give a stern warning to their parishioners to behave themselves and to be generous with their tips.

Therefore, Christian witnesses should not be stumbling blocks. We shouldn’t preach Christ with our mouths and deny Him by our behavior (Titus 1:16: 2 Timothy 2:19). And above all, we shouldn’t make people gag on the Gospel. If the only Christians an unbeliever knows are creeps, what hope do they have of ever being saved?

In this context, there’s nothing wrong with sugar-coating the Gospel—as long as it remains the Gospel. Certainly, we have it on the authority of Mary Poppins that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. And Christian believers could certainly stand to sweeten up a little. Therefore, let us “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).


Dear Father in heaven, please open my eyes to the ways I may be offensive and hurtful toward others. Grant that I may not sour the glorious Gospel by my bad behavior or tactlessness. Help me, O Lord, to always speak the truth in love and share my faith through my deeds as well as my words. Amen.

In article photo: iraq by U.S. Army licensed under BY CC 2.0

Information: Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Inactive ingredients in pills and capsules may cause allergic, adverse reactions: Majority of oral medications available to consumers contain ingredients that can affect sensitive individuals." ScienceDaily, 13 March 2019.

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