Saturday, April 12, 2014

Principle 15: Learn Moderation

It might seem like the foundational principles we are to embrace in this life are a little restrictive at times, but if you look at the reasoning behind each of them, there seems to be this theme of "safety", "well-being", and "overall protection".  As we explore our fifteenth principle today, we could take this at face value and believe it is a hard and fast rule to avoid the consumption of alcohol and rich foods.  Yet, if we examine this in the context of the principles being taught throughout this entire passage we have been exploring, we find this is another principle to guide us into choices which are "moderated" by wisdom and common sense in our lives.  It isn't a debate over the merits or demerits of consuming alcohol as much as it is a call for us to make all decisions about these life choices with wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit, and within the boundaries of moderation.

Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat.  Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.  (Proverbs 23:19-21 MSG)

The appeal is to listen and become wise - to keep our lives headed in the right direction so we avoid the pitfalls of unwise choices.  Some of the actions which are presented which indicate we may not be making the wisest of choices is the overuse of alcohol to the point of being drunk, or over-indulgence in those rich foods which lead to excessive weight gain.  It isn't  a debate over whether whether we may consume wine, but a reminder of the excesses associated with any behavior we might engage in which could ultimately bring harm to our body, soul, or spirit.  

Personally, I made a life choice at a young age to not drink alcoholic beverages, not so much because I believe scripture instructs us to avoid it totally, but because I have seen the damage of things carried to extremes in my life.  As a result, I didn't want to give myself to something which "lowers" my "inhibitions" because I know how weak I can become when they are lowered.  Maybe this is the reason behind our instruction today - to make us more aware of the excesses which can result when we are not fully in control of our inhibitions.  When we are in control of those things which act as "restraints" toward certain behaviors, we are indeed in a much better place than when we are not.

Inhibitions are those things which restrict our behavior in one way or another. It is what keeps me from just blurting out all the things I might think, recognizing not all I think needs to be heard!  Sometimes inhibitions work because there is a fear of punishment if we make the wrong decision - such as when we were caught in a lie by our parents.  Most of the time, these inhibitions are learned behaviors which are associated with reward for the right choice and punishment for the wrong.  In time, we develop a "set" of inhibitory "rules" which act as restraints in our lives.  If we don't develop these, we live a pretty haphazard and not well-founded life.  This is what our passage is really after - those things which give us a solid foundation which we can rely upon when making decisions.

As much as we could outline the hazards of excessive behaviors such as consuming too much alcohol, eating too much, or even just running on at the mouth incessantly, the idea here is that of restraint.  Allowing God to develop healthy levels of restraint, not so much because we fear some punishment if we don't exercise restraint, but because we have come to see the wisdom in restraint is what we are looking at today.  So, if you have areas in your life where restraint has been lacking, take that to God and he can restructure your life in that area.  He has the ability to transition us from loosely held standards to those which will be more consistently in line with the principles taught in the Word.  Just sayin!

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