Moderation in all things

“Moderation in all things,” is an extrapolation of Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean (as presented in Nicomachean Ethics). I have often heard this quoted as being a proverb right out of the writings of the Apostle Paul, not so. But, Paul did use a very similar idea when he wrote I Corinthians 9:25.


Paul wrote, “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25
We get the sense Paul was saying show moderation, self-restraint, self-control or self-discipline. But how does one do this?
Matthew 11 records the teachings of Jesus with a promise He gives. “My yoke is easy…” When we take the yoke of Jesus we connect to Him. We have a union with Him. To me it would stand to reason that when we connect to the Creator of heaven and earth we will have the power to be temperate in all things regardless of how pulling overindulgence sings in our hearts. When we are connected to the source we will have the power to succeed. We have the ability to control our schedules, our time, our daily chores and yes our food intake as well as our lust.
But, if my theory be true, WHY, do we NOT do all things in moderation? Show temperance in all things?

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37 thoughts on “Moderation in all things

  1. When I read this blog I thought of the word ‘condition/conditioning. Gary was teaching this past Sunday at church, Christ Church Int’l, on his continuing series on the Holy Spirit and spoke about ‘condition’ as related to the Spirit abiding with us. Sara picked up on this word further, discussing and commenting on it. From my perception of what was discussed, it seemed like there is some work, conditioning, we need to do in order to abide in the Spirit.
    When I thought about this blog and the scripture in Matthew, I was reminded that a lot of work, conditioning/temperance, goes into training, running and winning a race. You can’t overindulge (too much/too little; too much good/too much bad) in diet, exercise, rest, etc. It takes focus and temperance, mentally and physically, to become conditioned. And Paul said in Matt 9:27 that’s what it takes in order to win the prize and not become disqualified.
    So I would agree with Gary. And I would add that not only do you have to want to be temperant, you’ve got to work at it and choose His ways over your ways and wants. If you stay connected to him the yoke is easy. But if you get out of step with Him, the yoke rubs you the wrong way and then you either get back inline with Him or allow it to keep rubbing you until you rebel and decide you want to break out and away. Then the connection is lost and you lose your temperance.

  2. Ok, I have the footnotes for 1 Corin 9: 24-27 and my Bible puts more footnotes for verse 25. Read with me…” Winning a race requires purpose and discipline. Paul uses this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self-denial, and grueling preparation. As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. Don’t merely observe from the grandstand; don’t just turn out to jog a couple of laps each morning. Train diligently– your spiritual progress depends upon it. Whatever happened to self-discipline? Many books and speakers guide wandering souls to self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction, and self-awareness. Not many tackle self-discipline. Self-discipline requires an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, with emphasis on the latter. It means building the will to say no when a powerful appetite inside you screams yes. For example, when you have self-discipline, you can (1) say no to friends or situations that will lead you away from Christ, (2) say no to casual sex, saving intimacy for marriage, and (3) say no to laziness in favor of ‘can do’ and ‘will do’. Self-discipline is a long, steady course in learning attitudes that do not come naturally, and channeling natural appetites toward God’s purposes. Where are your weak points? Pray with a friend for God’s help to redirect weakness into strength.”

    Now, for the footnotes for Matt 11: 28-30…” “A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull. A person may be carrying heavy burdens of (1) sin, (2) excessive demands of religious leaders, (3) oppressions and persecution, or (4) weariness in the search for God. Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose. In what sense was Jesus; yoke easy? The yoke emphasizes the challenges, work, and difficulties of partnering with Christ in life. Responsibilities weigh us down, even the effort of staying true to God. But Jesus yoke remains easy compared to the crushing alternative. Jesus doesn’t offer a life of luxurious ease– the yoke is still an oxen’s tool for working hard. But it’s a shared yoke, with weight falling on bigger shoulders than yours. Someone with more pulling power is up front helping. Suddenly you are participating in life’s responsibilities with a great Partner– and now that frown can turn into a smile, and that gripe into a song.”
    Yes, Sara, I believe your theory is true, but I think Gary really got it right….”we just don’t want to!” Let’s face it…IT’s WORK!! In studying this I keep hearing the words….”Apart from me, Ye can do nothing”, is this a scripture? I can’t seem to find it. Can anyone help?

  3. Needles, I believe the scripture you are looking for is.. John 15;5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. …”

    Thank you Needles…I needed to read all of the above footnotes.

  4. From Needles footnotes above…”Self-discipline requires an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, with emphasis on the latter. It means building the will to say no when a powerful appetite inside you screams yes. For example, when you have self-discipline, you can (1) say no to friends or situations that will lead you away from Christ, ”

    1) friends or situations that will lead you away from Christ…I have been listening to people for days now tell me about their friends and family and how they enjoy them, etc. etc. and partnering with them without any thought of God but the scream inside “I want to, I love it, I love them, on and on and on.” I would suggest we all read these footnotes over and over…

  5. Needles these footnotes are REALLY helpful in dispelling any false misconceptions one may have about ‘My yoke is easy’ and puts all in the correct perspective, giving vital, vibrant meaning and truth to the word, ‘work’. We better remember that in light of your footnote that says, “But Jesus yoke remains easy compared to the crushing alternative.”!!! Get going and get yoked with Jesus or get crushed…now that will wake you up in the morning and put some spring in your step.

    Also your scripture that Sara found shows the meaning of being and staying connected ‘to the Creator of heaven and earth’ as Sara wrote.
    If you want your hose hooked up to the faucet so you can connect to the Living Water it takes some effort.

  6. Gary has been trumpeting about the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives right within our human spirit. There’s help right within us to control our fleshly appetites and to develop the Fruit of the Spirit upon which we can feast and more importantly upon which others can feast. I heard someone say, concerning controlling our eating habits, to the effect….if robbing a bank comes up as a temptation we know immediately that is evil and we are able to resist that and be victorious over that. But everybody’s gotta eat. Therein lies the problem It is so easy to excuse oneself in that category. We don’t want to deny ourselves and somewhere in there the plumbline gets fuzzy and foggy. But self-control is part and parcel of the Fruit of the Spirit and we must start somewhere….like saying “no” to our soulish nature just to prove that we can and that the spiritual man still has control.
    Sara cries out, what is the answer?

  7. Yes, maybe we think we are being cheated when we limit ourselves in some things. But the truth is…..we suffer when we surfeit certain foods or goods, etc. it can affect our health, or our finances, or our well being or our sanity, attitude and state of mind, eventually.
    Only with the help of Holy Spirit can we even attempt to take these things under control, stop at one or two, don’t go near that temptation…the “betcha’ ya’ can’t eat one” attitude. If we ask Holy Spirit to help us and then override Him every time He checks us in something, we’re deceiving ourselves and lying to Him.

  8. When I think of ‘abide’, I think of abide by the rules. John 15:5 as Needles refers to says, “…abide in me and I in you and you will bear much fruit… you can do nothing separate from me.” This is a contract.

    When my children were growing up and when I was growing up, we would give or receive a set of age appropriate rules and all would abide by the rules or there would be dire consequences. Jesus is saying to us abide by the rules given by God and He will be there for you.

    “Light shines in the darkness for the godly…”
    (Psalms 112:4a, NLT)

  9. From footnotes above: “Self-discipline is a long, steady course in learning attitudes that do not come naturally, and channeling natural appetites toward God’s purposes. Where are your weak points? Pray with a friend for God’s help to redirect weakness into strength.”

    I love the notes, pray with a friend for God’s help to redirect weakness into strength. Have you ever noticed either yourself or another when given a little strength or knowledge we take off like a motor boat thinking we have it all together, fall to temptation and don’t even have enough wisdom to know or if we do know just don’t care. It seems to me human minds do not like discipline, ie moderation in all things!

  10. Sara, your motor boat illustration reminded me of this scripture about our ‘thinking minds’.
    “So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall.”

  11. Sara you give 21st century meaning to age old Truth with your perspective on ‘abide’.
    Your comment made me think of The Daily Lily Retreat #4 last summer “Four Bees” when you spoke on John 15:5, relating it to us being a building or beehive and said “each hive must have rules to live by”. And you used Matt 12:25 to remind us “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. You went on to say:
    “We must know and understand the rules of our household becuase we do not want to live dysfunctional lives. Living disfunctional lives is very stressful and no fun at all because a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
    I found this very helpful and related to this blog and Needles footnotes.
    Being a divided person is being an unwhole, sick person and that is a dire consequence.
    Also I read in Col 3:25 this am of dire consequences: “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”

  12. In conjunction with what Debi has written about Jesus’ saying ….”a house divided against itself cannot stand”….. In the Amp, Psalm 86, David cries out, “Teach me Your way, O God, that I may walk and Live in the truth. And UNITE MY HEART to fear and honor Your Name. I will confess and praise You, Oh Lord my God, with my whole UNITED HEART and I will glorify Your Name, forevermore.”
    David indicates that a divided heart, a soul that desores earthly things and a spirit that wants the things of God make for a great division and degrades the integrity of a man. He asks God to UN-DIVIDE his heart so that his soul and his body will line up with his spirit to worship the living God. A divided heart just gives lip service but the heart is far from the Master.

  13. In reading all the comments this reminded me of Mathew 7:13-14 Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road. I wondered what narrowness meant and according to a commentary I read: The narrowness consists of the restrictions, disciplines, and requirements throughout the whole area of Christian living. Such things as self-denial, forgiveness of others, monogamy, meekness, renunciation of the pursuit of wealth as the chief end of life, and countless other basic scriptural principles are opposed to the natural man whose baser instincts propel him constantly in the direction of the wide gate and the broad way. Only those who are truly spiritual, who have set their minds upon the things in heaven, shall enter and negotiate the straitened way that leads to life; and yet, “Whosoever will may come!”
    Walking the path with Jesus requires knowing and focusing on truth (God’s principles for life) and walking in it. This goes back to Needles verse and footnotes for I Cor. 9: 24-27.

  14. It seems each comment has proved over and over the wonders of God’s love, protection and eternal future for us when we OBEY HIS GUIDELINES. So, back to the blog????
    “When we take the yoke of Jesus we connect to Him. We have a union with Him. To me it would stand to reason that when we connect to the Creator of heaven and earth we will have the power to be temperate in all things regardless of how pulling overindulgence sings in our hearts. When we are connected to the source we will have the power to succeed. We have the ability to control our schedules, our time, our daily chores and yes our food intake as well as our lust. But, if my theory be true, WHY, do we NOT do all things in moderation? Show temperance in all things?”

  15. Q. Does over eating or under eating, as well as other blaring outward manifestations of ‘out of control’ indicate a red light that something might be wrong on the inside. Pain, stress, illnesses, secret sins, etc.?

    Q. Does over working or under working show insecurities of some kind?

    Q. How much TV and how many movies a week could we call healthy? (That is if we have deemed them healthy before decision to watch)

    Q. How do we know when we need fun in the sun or rest in the shade?

    Q. How much sex should one have outside marriage? How much porno should one watch either in mags, TV, or internet or movies?

    My questions are never ending!!!! Our words moderation and temperance were never meant for things we should not do in the first place…I had in mind they were for the good things and faithful things we do. Like feed our children but not overfeed them or feed them unhealthy food so they will become obese! This blog has potential to help us become healthy in mind, body and spirit when we search out moderation and temperance in all good things and “face it, admit it and change it.”

  16. I believe many of these ‘red light’ out of control behaviors are called in the psychiatric or psychological community Disorders or Addictions. Just the name Disorder indicates that something is out of God’s perfect Order for our lives.
    In the plant world when something looks wrong with the part of the plant we can see above ground, diagnosticians know to looks at the roots…they tell the story of what is really going on.
    At the 1st annual Daily Lily Retreat, Sara taught from her book ‘Dance of Healing’. In it she tells us that there are ‘six steps for tapping into the well-spring of spiritual life’ if we are going to be whole and that there are ‘essential stages of excavating these deep longings that are within each of us’.
    Now here’s a key point she makes, I believe, in addressing some of her questions above. “When left unattended these longings may at times take the form of addicitons, thereby distorting our creativity.”

    So, a longing will lead you to satisfy a lust or a love for God. We shouldn’t confuse the two. Identify and differentiate between them because they don’t mix. An unfulfilled longing for a lust leads to disorders and addictions.

  17. In an attempt to give some input to your queries, Sara, I think that #1…irregularities, or sudden life, attitude, demeanor changes certainly can be indications of illness, stress. frustration and/or secret sin which might be the root of the life-style change to begin with, like a ‘catch 22’.
    #2….People who bury themselves in their work to the exclusion of other activites, relationships or even spiritual practices, except for the occasional service attended, may be using WORK as an excuse to not be involved with family or others because they do not want the responsibility that communication and sometimes, confrontation bring.
    #3…speaking of moderation in all things a surfeit of movies and TV might be an indication of not living in the real world but filling your time with fantasy until it might become difficult to discern reality from fictionality.
    #4…Jesus said to His disciples, ‘come away and rest awhile,” for He knew they had had such a heavy schedule that they barely had time to eat. Jesus knew when they needed to rest. Father God knew when He wanted to rest. There is a rest in Jesus, that calls to us to come away….to pray, to play, to stay, to obey. To every thing there is a season…and a purpose under Heaven. But if we stay in the season of PLAY too long, then we might miss the opportunities God has prepared for us at our posts.
    #5….adultery, fornication, porn all have a place on one’s life if they are hell-bent on ruining their lives, grieving the Holy Spirit and these are also necessary if one is determined to rip hell wide open. Jesus said, ” you have heard it is written, do not commit adultery but I tell you that even if you so much as look with LUST upon another person you have already committed adultery with them in your heart.” He didn’t say only do it once in awhile when you can’t resist anymore, or try it and see if you are struck dead on the spot, but He said DON’T DO IT! WHY? Not because He is a stick-in-the mud GOD but because He knows it will defile us and eventually lead to spiritual death. Does that mean it is the unpardonable sin? No, but if one continues to perform acts of defilement and does not repent and change as Sara says above, admit, face & change the behavior, then the rewards of sin will be their just deserts.

  18. Sara suggested we read Needles footnotes over and over. The exercise of reading these Bible verses and footnotes is part of the ‘essential disciplines’ Needles refers to win the race.
    I saw two stark comparisons in the footnotes. We are either training and set on running: “As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward”…OR we are wanderers set on an earthly prize of self-fulfillment.

    Wanderers want to be guided by sources that appeal to the flesh as ‘pulling overindulgence sings in our hearts’ as Sara puts it. (‘Many books and speakers guide wandering souls to self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction, and self-awareness. Not many tackle self-discipline. ‘…Needles footnotes)
    Heavenly competitors, on the other hand, want to be trained and stay in training. Needles footnotes said, ‘Train diligently– your spiritual progress depends upon it’. No daily training camp, no spiritual progress, just wander in and wander out.

  19. When we seek peace in the presence of God we find a high that none other could possibly provide. I feel so grateful that I have a friend that provides so many benefits to my daily life, I am beginning to see a pattern that is showing us if we discipline our time to linger in the presence of God than other disciplines seem to come easier.

  20. “Paul uses this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self denial, and grueling preparation.” Humm, does this sound like we need to “shed some fleshly desires/wants” to do this?????????

  21. For some of us Needles, might be not some but many fleshly desires…..

    In my book reviews today I found this book I thought matched our blog…
    Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Ouf-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine by Glenn Beck

    “Everyone on both sides of the aisle need to read this book but please leave prior thoughts at the door. I wish this had been published without Beck’s name so it would be given a fair shake on all sides.” excerpts from a comment by a reader.

    I must say this comment helped me as I am not a Glenn Beck fan. Honestly, I can’t bear to hear him although I agree with him many times. But, to me he seems so out of control with his emotions and words. A book title, an impartial comment and now Beck’s book sparks my interest. Beck’s title, ‘out of control government.” Aristotle’s Doctrine…moderation in all things seems to keep beaming high beams in my mind.

  22. Thank you Sara for this blog. As I was reading about moderation, I have to agree with Gary. We don’t want moderation. Today’s attitude is to indulge. We sit go out to eat and make 3 trips to buffet, drink a pitcher of sweet tea and then eat a huge piece of pie with ice cream on it. When we leave, we have to unbutton our pants and push the sit back in our cars because if anything touches our belly we will explode. The whole way home we pray the air bag doesn’t accidently come out. We say man I won’t each again for a week and then we do it again and again…. Our problem is we don’t like discipline. We don’t like self- discipline or any other kind of discipline. We want what we want and it is usually not in moderation. We need to change our thinking. When we eat like pigs, it usually makes us feel miserable. Our body is telling us to slow down and to eat in moderation. Our mind is telling us this is the best meal I’ve ever had and I must finish it all because of the hungry people all over the world. Next thing we know we are obese with a list of health issues. We must get control. Every action has either a good or bad consequence. We must change our thinking. Jesus said His yoke is easy. Jesus has already carried the heaviest, most difficult yoke ever. He carried the CROSS!! He walked on this earth to show us the way to live. He showed us how to stay focused and to be self diasciplined. He taught us about moderation. He was beaten, spit on, nailed to a cross and ridiculed so that my yoke will be easy. I think we owe to Jesus and ourselves to use moderation and apply self displine when need.

  23. Hi Chickenfarmer,
    In my study of Beth Moore’s Daniel. She talks about daily resolve, consistency that Daniel choose by not eating the Babylonian royal food. He not only resolved to not eat their physical food but also resolved not to eat their teachings . He had to practice his resolve every single day all day long. Beth says, “Had his decision been easy, it wouldn’t have demanded resolve. It takes consistency in our resolve. She goes on to say and I quote her directly: “No, we will not reach perfection in this lifetime on planet Earth, but we can certainly reach consistency (see blog on this). Indeed we must, or the enemy will nearly burn us alive. Never forget what a good shot he is. Satan never wastes a fiery dart by aiming at a spot covered by armor. The bull’s-eye is located dead center in our inconsistency. That’s where the enemy plans to bring us down.”

  24. Thank you Rena for sharing Beth Moore’s study on Daniel. I love that book of FAITH. I also love Beth’s Bible studies. They are awesome. Debi thanks for sharing Phillipians 4:5. What a powerful verse on moderation.

  25. Well chickenfarmer, when you paint such a graphic picture for us of indulgence, it sure makes modeeration seem like the wise choice! And better to tink about our actions before we indilge in re-actions.

  26. Chickenfarmer, I am guilty! Is is possible to be very guilty? I think the Bible calls someone guilty of this a glutton!

    Debi, what does the writer of Phillipians means, “the Lord is at hand.” Does this mean God is going to be very much aware of my being out of control?

  27. Ok, CF, I guess I’m gona have to consider this “moderation”, when I want to make another trip to the buffet………especially when one of my favorites is there……..homemade chicken and pastry!!!!

  28. Sara, to offer an answer to the question you asked Debi…I think, also, that “THE LORD IS AT HAND” might mean He’s right there at our right hand and our left hand, every moment through His Holy Spirit. He’s our Guest at every meal, whether at home or away. He’s at our HAND(s). Remember that little song….”Be careful little hands” how many helpings you take, etc. etc. etc.

  29. Yes Needles we will have to review this blog at the the buffet. I’ll have to let Noah read this as well. He sure loves that famous chicken and pastry.

  30. Sara asked, “Debi, what does the writer of Phillipians means, “the Lord is at hand.” Does this mean God is going to be very much aware of my being out of control?”
    I would have to agree w/ MG as in reading several different translations many say, ‘The Lord is near.” So if the Lord is near to us, then he must accompany us to the buffet table.
    This made me think of Song of Solomon 2:4 says ‘He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love. ”
    God has a banqueting table for us with all all the food we need to keep us healthy spiritually, physically and mentally….if we will come and eat what He prepares for us. And Jesus said that His body was broken for us and to ‘take and eat’. His ‘food’ will keep us in moderation.

  31. Right, Debi. God is concerned about us, with what we introduce into our temples, whether ideas, concepts, philosophies, ideologies or material pictures or thought patterns in our minds or food and drink for our bodies.
    In Psalm 23 David writes, “He sets a banqueting table before me in the presence of my enemies.” The cup that HE proffers is brimming with health and salvation, healing and happiness, justice and joy. “Our cups runneth over !”

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