Finding Contentment in Moderation
“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” (Proverbs 25:16)
We live in a time of extremes, with extreme sports topping the list, including volcano boarding, bungee jumping, zorbing, ice-climbing, xpogo, and zip-lining, to name a few. (1) We love extreme love stories, medical miracles on TV shows, house make-overs, and “xtreme” gardening. A few of us engage in these radical activities while the rest of us enjoy them vicariously. On a recent phone call with one of my siblings, who is very close in age, I had nothing new to report about my life—nothing new that I had done or tried. Of course, there is much going on in my life, but it is happening within non-newsworthy Bible studies, ministry, writing and confidential relationships. Granted, some of the mundane aspects of my life are due to my age, and not having any children or grandchildren of my own. But it should be no surprise to a Christian that a full, contented life is best lived without the drama expected by the world.
The Bible does not forbid enjoying extreme sports or other pleasures of this life, which is oneof the major themes of Ecclesiastes. “Everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13; see also 2:24; 5:19; 8:15) But we are not to put our hope in things “under the sun” for lasting satisfaction, since worldly pleasures are transitory, expressed as “vanity” by Solomon. In addition to the above verses, Solomon wrote, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13) John Gill took Solomon’s meaning to be “the getting of wisdom and knowledge, which, like honey, is sweet and desirable, and excellent, and nourishing, [when] moderately used.” (2) Material possessions are not the only achievements or possessions of this life that may be the objects that we desire. Intangibles such as approval, success, romance, beauty, recognition, and even human wisdom can become objects of coveting and idolatry. However, sincere, faithful humility is one possession that will lead to godly contentment.
Solomon’sreasoning sometimes makes us shake our heads in wonder, but his wisdom is consistent with the rest of Scripture. For example, in Ecclesiastes 7:19 he wrote, “Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city,” but in 1:18 he scribed, “In much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Solomon never discouraged his readers from seeking wisdom to live in this world. “There is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.” (2:13) Perhaps he meant what Gill says, that we “should take care to keep within due bounds, and not seek to be too wise; or to exercise themselves in things too high for them, and aim at that which is above their capacity.” (3) Job, another godly, wise man said, “ I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3) Like honey, too much confidence in his wisdom made Job queasy when God rebuked him.
We often get into trouble when we bite off more than we can chew. What in this life do youseek or consume too much, more than is good for you? How can you practice more moderation, and, as a result, experience more satisfaction with less?
(1) https://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/20-unmissable-extreme-sports-and-where-to-try-them/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d277bd61or https://www.extremesportslab.com/list-of-100-extreme-sports/
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-25.html