By Marcus Vernier
I was reminded recently about moderation in regard to exercise routines, as there seems to be a fine line for me between feeling good and energized after a workout and being overly tired or fuzzy-headed. Like most things in life, moderation seems to be a key.
In searching my Bible, I only found one reference to moderation: “Let your moderation be known to all men.”1
Moderation as an attribute could be interpreted as being somewhat down the scale, almost a subpoint, compared to the other more noticeable or talked-about spiritual qualities, like love, joy, meekness, etc. Moderation almost seems like a non-starter. What is so special about being moderate? I wondered. But how it played out in the everyday practical things of life, like the exercise reference above, sure showed that it does have its place.
To be moderate, we have to allow certain constraints to exist and have their effects. Being moderate means we can’t go too far this way or that way, but we place on ourselves, or allow God’s Spirit to place on us, certain restrictions that keep us on the “straight and narrow.”
I was reading an article the other day and saw how this can even relate to stress:
A very helpful aid in recognizing and overcoming some kinds of stress is the guideline of a balanced life. Where there is balance, there must be constraint‚ and learning constraint and discipline will help you to avoid stress.
Stress is all about pushing past the constraints in an unhealthy way‚ or spending too much time worrying about the constraints. To defeat stress you have to be thankful for your constraints, and learn to stay within them, because they bring you balance.2
An older article, written in 1976, called “The Land of Not Too Much,” further illustrates this point. Though childlike in its simplicity, it gives a novel view of moderation and how this quality, far from being a minor attribute, can actually be a major key toward solving everybody’s problems!
The Land of Not Too Much
A Dream of the Millennium
By David Brandt Berg
In the “Land of Not Too Much” it was impossible to do too much of anything: You couldn’t eat too much, you couldn’t drink too much, you couldn’t work too much, you couldn’t sleep too much.
You couldn’t see too much, you couldn’t hear too much, you couldn’t learn too much, and you couldn’t talk too much. You couldn’t play too long, you couldn’t run too far or worry too much.
You just couldn’t do too much of anything. And that seemed to solve all the problems. Nobody wanted too much, so nobody had too much, and so nobody fought to get too much or had any fights or wars, because nobody wanted too much, or more than the other fellow. Nobody wanted too much of anything; nobody had too much of anything.
There was lots of peace and plenty and safety and happiness, but not too much—just enough for everybody. Everybody had enough to eat and to drink, enough to wear, but not too much. Nobody had too much.
Nobody got too cold or too hungry or too wet or too big or too fat or too small or too weak or too strong. Nobody was too much of anything or had too much of anything or didn’t have enough of anything.
And everybody had the truth, and the truth was that nobody had too much or was too much of anything. And that seemed to solve everybody’s problems.
Everything was solved by not too much. “The Land of Not Too Much,” where everybody was content with not too much. Nobody wanted too much, so everybody had enough, and that solved all the problems.Nobody was too good or too bad or too proud or too mean or too much of anything.
It was just impossible to have too much or do too much or go too far or go too fast. You just couldn’t do or have too much of anything, and so that made everybody happy. Everybody was so happy because nobody had too much or was too much or did too much or said too much in the Land of Not Too Much.
I guess the reason everybody had enough was because nobody had too much, and that’s why nobody had to work too hard or do too much, because everybody did enough, did their share and not too much—it’s just that simple! Nobody was overmuch righteous, but just enough, in the Land of Not Too Much. Isn’t that too much? No, that’s not too much. That’s just enough, isn’t it?
Though the word “moderation” is only mentioned once in the King James Version of the Bible, there is another word, meaning pretty much the same thing, “temperance,” and it appears a few times in the New Testament, but noticeably in the reference to the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
In another version in the English, temperance becomes “self-control,” hinting that we have a part to play in regulating our behavior.
Let’s end this with a wholesome quote from Jostein Gaarder:
Health is the natural condition. When sickness occurs, it is a sign that Nature has gone off course because of a physical or mental imbalance. The road to health for everyone is through moderation, harmony, and a “sound mind in a sound body.”