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Are You In Charge of You?

Heard this lately? "If you give a pig and a boy everything they want, you'll get a good pig and a bad boy." Wise King Solomon noticed the danger of overindulgence and warned that too much of even a good thing can be bad — Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit" (Proverbs 25:16). Solomon's words remind us there are people who will not draw the line. Religious writer John Phillips wrote about touring a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. He told about looking at the fancy candies and delectable delicacies surrounding him until his mouth watered. But he also noticed none of the employees in the factory seemed to be the least bit tempted. The guide leading their tour explained: "When a new employee joins the staff, he is invited – even encouraged – to eat all the chocolate he wants. He is not allowed to take any out of the factory, but there are no limits on how many he may eat while he is at work. Usually a new employee will indulge his love for chocolate to the full – for the first few days. After a while, however, he becomes sick of the very sight of them. Indeed, in a few weeks' time he rarely so much as tastes one. He is satiated" (The John Phillips Commentary Series:

Exploring Proverbs, Volume Two; p 329). Solomon himself tried all the "honey" this world had to offer (read Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:10). From wit and wisdom to wealth and wine to works and women — Solomon ate all the "honey" he could find. He threw moderation and self-control to the wind and gorged himself on all this world's sensual delicacies. In his words, "I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem . . . .Whatever my eyes desired I did not keel) from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure" (2:9, 10). Solomon denied himself nothing of this world's pleasures. He "made a pig of himself" until his senses and appetites were stuffed full. But, alas, his uncontrolled binge on worldly experiences left him nauseated and dissatisfied. He was forced to admit,"all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun" (2:11b). Too much sweet had turned to sour.  The words of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 beg for a wider hearing in over-indulgent America and from over-indulgent church members: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." Like elite athletes striving to win an earthly prize, Christians must practice self-control if they are to win the eternal prize God gives the faithful. Don Loftis recently wrote, "We live in the midst of an indulgent society which has a hard time saying 'NO' to premarital sex, drugs, pornography, debt, overwork, divorce, and fourths at the buffet" (Old Hickory Church of Christ bulletin, 4/15/12). The self-evident truth is that our national failure to control our appetites is eating us alive. Do you have power over yourself, or does your "self" and your appetites have power over you? Think about it – are you in charge of you?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ