Some of you may have seen ads on TV concerning beer or liquor products with the warning, “Drink in moderation.” But a word like moderation is interpreted on many levels and under multitudes of circumstances. It may be generally determined but ends up being judged by situation ethics. In other words, it may be alright for you but not for me. If we parse the word as mode-ration, it may suggest that it has to do with how we ration something.

But why is moderation so important? Psychologists tell us that going to the extreme can trigger stress. Working more, overthinking, strenuous exercise, overeating, strained relationships, and fad diets can trigger stress. Living in moderation can be remarkably helpful in minimizing stress as well as fighting against various stress-related health issues.

With a Master’s Degree in social work and a Licensed Social Worker at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Rajvi Desai tells us that the phrase “Everything in moderation” is something most of us have heard at some point in our lives, probably advised as a caution against going overboard with an activity, such as eating, shopping, working out, or spending time watching TV. But some people find it hard to do anything in moderation, no matter how insistent the advice is. Working out once a week feels useless; one night a week out with friends seems pointless; going shopping to buy one article of clothing seems like too much effort. For some people, moderation takes on the negative connotation associated with restraint and low output. They’re more the all-or-nothing kind.

We know both the ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ mindsets are harmful to people, but moderation doesn’t come easy either. Research shows that human bodies are built on healthy or unhealthy habits. In order to break them, empty words that advise moderation — even if it’s the correct change to make — don’t work as long as people are still operating from their psychological need to go all or nothing. Like any behaviors that have a basis in mental health, tackling root causes goes a long way in fixing superficial behaviors in a more moderating, healthy manner.

Then, Jeremy Godwin, a podcaster from Australia and author of “Let’s Talk About Mental Health,” says he has talked about moderation and balance for ages and does so because it helps to lay a solid foundation for mental and emotional wellbeing. Having or experiencing more and more in your life is not necessarily better; it’s just more, and it comes with its set of problems. This isn’t a new idea; the Stoics of Ancient Greece talked about four virtues: “moderation, courage, justice, and wisdom. The idea of moderation has been a core part of Buddhism for thousands of years. In fact, they teach what is called the “Middle Way” as a principle in their belief system, and it’s both a philosophical idea and a practical one in terms of how you approach your day-to-day life.

Godwin says he knows a lot of people who cringe when they hear the word moderation because it seems so incredibly dull. Moderation means avoiding excess or extremes, especially when it comes to the way you behave. Moderation is the opposite of extremism … whether we’re talking about behavior, politics, spiritual matters, or fad diets.

One chief factor in learning moderation is the effects of what psychologists call “toxicitymoderation. They are directly related to their degree of exposure to harmful content. This is true regardless of whether people are known as “content moderators” who work inside companies or outsourcing companies. For example, in-house moderators enjoy larger compensation packages, a more pleasant work environment, a more flexible schedule, and comprehensive mental health benefits like private psychotherapy and psychiatric care. In contrast, according to recent investigations, paid counselors working for contractors may face unpleasant working conditions, demanding volume and accuracy targets, restrictive schedules, rigid rules, and unflagging pressure to perform (or be fired). However, given enough exposure to toxic content, both in-house and outsourced counselors experience similar mental health consequences. These include:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – symptoms include mood disturbances, reduced productivity, nightmares/flashbacks, sleeplessness, fatigue, avoidance of certain situations, anger, fear/paranoia, and sadness. 
  • Panic attacks – for example, some report panic attacks in the presence of children and animals because they fear that serious harm will come to them. 
  • Anxiety – this can be severe enough to disrupt daily life, as fears and sensitivities can cause normal activities and relationships to become untenable. 
  • Depression – prolonged exposure to disturbing content can lead counselors to withdraw from loved ones and feel overwhelmed by sadness, apathy, and suicidal thoughts. 
  • Self-destructive habits include abusing alcohol and drugs and engaging in indiscriminate sexual contact. Such behaviors have been reported in the workplace as an emotional escape from toxic content. 
  • Inappropriate (dark and disturbing) humor and language – for example, jokes about cruelty, graphic violence, or sexual assault. 
  • Adopting fringe views may include conspiracy theories and fringe views like the flat-Earth theory. Repeated exposure to such material without alternate viewpoints can become persuasive. 

But what does God’s Word say about moderation? King Solomon had some excellent advice. For instance, he said, don’t make friends with people who drink too much wine and overeat. Those who eat and drink too much become poor. They sleep too much and end up wearing rags.[1] Solomon also stated that you would get sick if some things are like honey, but don’t eat too much of it.[2] Then he says that it is even harmful to eat too much honey![3]

Our Lord Jesus put it this way: ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them![4] The Apostle Paul added that the right thing to do is to quit eating meat or drinking or doing anything else that tempts your brother or sister and makes them go against their conscience.[5] Then he explained that he could do anything he wanted to, but not all things were good. He will not let anything control him like a slave.[6] Even athletes exercise moderation in all things. They do this so that they can win a prize – one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever.[7] Then Paul clarifies: My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your immoderate tendencies. Instead, in love, do what is suitable for others, not just yourselves.[8] Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do in moderation.[9]

Paul also advised that the Anointed One made us free from the powers that influence this world. So why act as if we still belong to the world? I mean, says Paul, why do you follow these rules: “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t touch that?” These rules talk about earthly things that are gone after they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. These rules may seem wise as part of a made-up religion in which people pretend to be humble and punish their bodies. But they don’t help people moderate what their undisciplined selves want to do.[10] So be careful, says Paul, for the love of getting more is the first step toward all kinds of wrongdoing. Some people have even turned away from God because of their passion for it, resulting in many sorrows.[11] That will allow you to show yourself in all respects to be a model of moderation, integrity, and dignity.[12]

Finally, the Apostle Peter urges us to do things in moderation. Remember, the devil is your enemy, who goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to catch.[13] So we can see that moderation is necessary for our life’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas. We must stop thinking about how we will feel and start considering how others feel that look to us as an example.

[1] Proverbs 23:20-21

[2] Proverbs 25:16

[3] Ibid. 25:27

[4] Luke 6:31

[5] Romans 14:21

[6] 1 Corinthians 6:12

[7] Ibid. 9:25

[8] Galatians 5:13

[9] Philippians 4:5

[10] Colossians 2:20-23

[11] 1 Timothy 6:10

[12] Titus 2:7

[13] 1 Peter 5:8

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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