by Rev. John Farmer
Trying to Live in Moderation
I wanted to talk to you again about the scary fact that we live in an ever-changing society, a culture that pays all too much attention to the extraordinary, to the bizarre. Punk rockers with fluorescent hair and pierced body parts, self-reassignment of our gender, radical disregard for a Biblical humanity, lack of respect for others bedeck many a prominent monthly magazine cover.
Evidently “bizarre” sells.
Out of step, deviant behavior occupies much of the nightly news. Too often we lean on popular contemporary behavior as the norm, without ever looking back at the model for human behavior as touted in Scripture. All the present rumors, charges, boasts, complaints, etc., regarding our uproarious pending general election tell us that America is in deep trouble. We need more light, and less heat.
Spread across the New Testament is a teaching about doing things well—and doing them in moderation.
Wait a minute —I didn’t say mundane, or boring. I mean the living of life within accepted Biblical limits. It does matter to the Lord just how we live. We can profit by taking a few minutes to rehearse some New Testament teachings. Shall we?
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all people. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” —Philippians 4:4-8
Let’s pick the text apart, and mine some of its wonderful resources.
• “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Few things can alter our being as much as moving ourselves behind the cross, forgetting our self-indulgence and placing God first. Nothing does that as quickly as praising God. It is so simple that we often miss its blessing. Dwelling upon God, and his goodness helps us heal from within. It equips us for the labors ahead. Go ahead and praise God, anyway. Do so with a glad heart.
• “Let your moderation be known unto all people.” The Lord is at hand. God is ever with us. Finding a sense of self discipline is a testimony unto itself. God is pleased with those who try to emulate a moderate attitude about the vicissitudes of life.
• “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” From saying our prayer at meals to embarking upon some unknown trek—we need to place ourselves in a mode of prayer. This passage is an encouragement to rush to prayer. One could even go so far as to say that we might do well to erupt in prayer. Surely, thankful prayer should be easy for Christians. We are so blessed. We need to inventory God’s goodness toward us. We are elevated toward heaven as we recognize the abundant goodness of God in our past; and the breadth of trust for which we’ve invested in him for our future.
• “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” When we invite God into our lives, our plans, He instills in us the ability to do all that we seek to achieve with a spirit of holiness. Our devotion to God knits us back together: spiritually and physically. It prepares us to meet him in the hereafter.
• “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Herein lies a simple formula for evaluating just what it is that we are about. We need not to look at the world, or any of the publicized aberrant lifestyles to find a model for popularity. We need to look to God for help and direction. Madison Avenue thrives on “selling” us a new norm daily. Christians must press the book to find out how today is really supposed to be lived, in order to have success tomorrow.
Most of us have established our Biblical posture as Sunday morning behavior. Maybe that’s why so many folks have little use for those of us in the community of faith. It is sad that many regard us as folks who know far too much about the Jack of diamonds, and fire water; as opposed to replicating the prince of peace and holy water.
It has been said that Christians hide their beer from the church, and scripture from our friends.
We have to find ourselves in the Biblical testimony and lock onto its truths to become the beacon of light in which our families, our friends, our nation can trust. It’s not what we say, rather ’tis what we do, which determines how we are perceived. We have to let our Sunday morning posture infect our lives to the point that we are living daily for the master.
Certainly, we can find solace that there is a noble way that in which we should behave. Let’s spend a few minutes of the rest of this week asking ourselves how we’ve measured our attitude, performance, behavior, and faith?
Our faith is the best tool in the hands of God for every age, every culture, every situation.