If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house— too much of you, and they will hate you.Proverbs 25:16-17 NIV
Is it safe to say that many of us struggle with moderation? One soda isn’t bad for you, but two or three? One glass of wine might even be good for your heart, but four or five? Occasionally eating a few caramel M&M’s won’t kill you, but a whole bag for breakfast? (Okay, it wasn’t really a whole bag. The bag was already 1/2 empty by the time I finished it off for breakfast.) Even good things that would normally be healthy can be harmful when not practiced, used, or consumed in moderation. I love smoked meat, ribs, brisket, pork, chicken… Eating a well-balanced diet that includes those kinds of meat in moderation is healthy. But gorging on too much meat can be very unhealthy. Sleep is good, but too much sleep leads to poverty (see Proverbs 6:9-11). No doubt there are many more examples coming to your mind.
A lack of moderation has a subtle way of sneaking into our Christian faith as well, turning good things into idols that steal glory from God. The church I grew up in was so obsessed with living a moral life according to “holiness standards” that they went overboard with rules and regulations, adding far more than was ever in Scripture. This resulted in a brittle, easily broken faith that was based on keeping the rules, rather than a strong, enduring faith built on the foundation of a personal relationship with Jesus.
Many Christians idolize their spouse or their family, often putting family ahead of God in an effort to be a good spouse or parent. But, making God a lower priority never results in greater godliness! In our churches today, we highly value friendship. But sometimes we take it to an unhealthy level and become codependent on one another when we really should only be dependent on God. Of course, the opposite can also be true–sometimes we idolize solitude to the point of neglecting life together, and that can be unhealthy, too. Church is great, but being too busy with church is not. We need space to rest, spend time with the Lord and our families, and interact with unbelievers who need to see Jesus in us.
The point of all this is self-control and the worship of God alone. God is our “magnificent obsession,” and He is the only one worthy of our unceasing worship and devotion. For everything else, even the good things, even the church things, we need to exercise appropriate self-control. My prayer for the week is that God will bring to our hearts an area where we struggle with self-control and moderation, so that we can become less dependent on that and more dependent on God.