When I first starting writing our word for this month, I thought the word was "moderation." I wanted to know what God said about boundaries in the things that may not be sinful, but in excess are definitely not beneficial. As I started to study and read and listen, I saw an image of some walking on a balance beam.
Now, this is an extra amusing visual for God to place in my mind's eye because anyone who has ever been to my classes knows....balance is NOT my strong-suit. Tree pose is my enemy ;) But then again, every time we DO tree pose, I tell everyone, "balance is hard for me, but if we don't practice it, we will never get better at it."
Whew. Selah. Let that preach.
God has blessed us with free will in all that we do, and complete "think about it, you decide what suits you" in many areas. Yes, there are many choices that are very black and white, a sin for anyone. Stealing your neighbors wife, then having him killed to cover it up is a definite no-go, although not unforgiveable (just ask David...but that is another devotion for another time. I digress...)
What do we do in those moments of freedom where it isn't a salvation issue? It isn't a sin but it isn't honoring either. What do we do in the gray areas? When does not enough go from satisfying to too much?
I feel like this is what gets humanity in trouble on a regular basis. We want freedom, then we don't know what to do with it so we want black and white rules to follow, then we don't like being told what to do and we want freedom, wash, rinse, repeat. It is a tale as old as time, it's what got the Israelites stuck wondering the desert for so many years.
Free will is the responsibility attached to freedom; you can't have one without the other.
Let's go back to that balance beam God showed me.
When walking a balance beam, you are trying to avoid falling onto either side, not just one or the other. Such as it is with walking the line of moderation held up above the gray areas of slavery. This applies to many things, but since many of us are here for health and wellness (and it has been on my mind a lot lately), let's use the example of dieting.
When walking the balance beam of a healthy diet, we are trying to maintain our balance between falling to one side (all out free-for-all gluttony) or the other (obsessing over food and letting the scale or "diet" rules control your life and happiness). With each step (choice) we make, we find ourselves leaning to one side of the other and needing to recognize that wobble and adjust.
Snickers aren't a sin, but they aren't really building you up either.
As we journey down the beam, we may begin to make compromises and excuses. We start to lean, and the beam feels slick.
It is time to grab a hand.
I remember as a small child I took tumbling, and the beam was one thing we did. Any time we were walking heel-toe down that narrow beam, the gymnastics coach was always right next to us, ready to lend a steadying hand. Freedom is found not in your own ability, but in the ability to reach out and no longer rely on your own strength to stay upright.
Jesus is walking the beam beside you. He wants to help steady you between the extremes and keep you upright as you walk the narrow road.
Don't listen to the world tell you to "go big or go home" "jump all in" and be "all or nothing" in every little thing that you do. There is no wisdom, discernment, or grace in such attitudes. Instead, take each step with the guiding hand of Jesus and ask Him what the next right choice is to maintain your footing.
And if you start to slip, don't worry. He will catch you.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly
And by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.