It is not good to eat much honey,
or to seek honor on top of honor.
Like a city breached, without walls,
is one who lacks self-control.
I am all about moderation. Or rather, I am moderately about moderation.
Okay that was a bad joke.
Actually, I’m usually not very good about moderation at all. I don’t have drinking problems or anything, but I am a huge Texas Rangers fan (which occasionally makes me think about adopting a drinking problem). There are 162 games in a baseball season, and in any given year, I probably watch about 130 of them. I have a multiplicity of Texas Rangers hats and t-shirts, a couple of jerseys, and even a pair of Texas Rangers socks. I plan my schedule around the Texas Rangers. I go to great lengths to ensure that I’m somewhere with a TV tuned to the Rangers every time they’re playing.
What? I’m fine. As long as it doesn’t detract from other aspects of my life, then what’s the problem?
I mean, if you can’t stop drinking or if you can’t stop gambling, we might say your addiction is unhealthy. But what about good things? What about things like Texas Rangers baseball? What about ice cream? Or reading? Or spending time with friends? If God has blessed us with something, doesn’t God want us to enjoy that as much as we can?
But the writer of Proverbs says it is not good to eat too much honey. What’s not good about too much honey? I mean, how many people throughout history have had their lives ruined by a crippling honey addiction?
Things like eating too much honey, watching too much baseball, owning too many Apple products, or sleeping too much don’t strike us as bad as alcoholism, gambling addictions, or pornography addictions because they don’t seem to hurt anyone. But the writer of Proverbs doesn’t agree that these kinds of addictions are harmless. And C. S. Lewis hammers that point home in his own quote on the matter.
Just because you’re not falling down in the street over it, doesn’t mean it isn’t spiritually damaging you.
An addiction doesn’t have to cripple you in order to be spiritually damaging. It just has to define you.
I recently heard a friend say, “Anything you cannot fast from from owns you.”
And maybe that’s a good metric for us to use. What is it in my life that I can’t give up, even for just a short period of time? Maybe those are things I need to give up altogether.
Jesus tells us that we can’t serve two masters. So if we can’t give something up, it becomes our master. Even if we’re not falling down in the street over it. As C. S. Lewis says, God is not deceived by externals. I may appear to have it all collected and in order on the outside, but God knows when I’ve let other things take God’s place as Lord in my life.
But I also don’t want to swing too far the other way. Proverbs doesn’t say, “don’t eat honey or seek honor.” Those things are good things! God has given us blessings that I think God wants us to take advantage of. God is not opposed to baseball games, or ice cream, or honey. God created those things so that we could enjoy them! I really believe that God gets enjoyment out of our enjoyment of life.
But one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. It’s there right after gentleness. When the Holy Spirit of God lives within us, we exercise restraint on how we partake in the blessings God has given us, because we only have one Master. And it’s not Texas Rangers Baseball. It’s not the delicious taste of honey. It’s not curling up with a good book. It’s the God of the Universe, who calls us to belong fully to God’s self
Tyler Jarvis is a youth minister and occasional writer. He's entirely too good at Guitar Hero, and entirely too bad at the real guitar. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person. You can read more of Tyler's articles at tylerjarvis.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Tyler_Jarvis.