Moderation may be defined as the quality that avoids leaving the golden middle and going toward or to extremes of thought, feeling, word and act, and strikes a happy medium of disposition and its expressions. It is the spirit of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1: 7), and it finds its supreme exemplification in God, whose moderation is manifest in all His thoughts, motives, words and acts, as the Bible shows.
We can understand moderation better by considering its opposite. We may speak of an immoderate person as an extremist, as one who is unbalanced, rash and radical in his thoughts, motives, words and acts, one who over-emphasizes or under-emphasizes principles, teachings, concepts, ideas, circumstances, persons, conditions, positions, demands, needs, etc.
Both by precept and example the Bible promotes moderation as a balancing of our thoughts, words, motives and acts, so that we may withdraw them from deviations of either extreme and keep them away from them, and centered in the golden middle.
Moderation’s Sphere and Necessity
Moderation has its sphere of operation in one’s personal life and in relations with others – in the family, schools, church affairs, professions, business, labor, politics, government and all other social relationships. Moderation is necessary especially because of the proneness of mankind in general and many of God’s people to deviate from the golden middle and go toward or to one extreme or the other. Moderation assists greatly in helping individuals to be successful in every area of life.
Moderation is surely necessary to Christians in their efforts to please God above all else in the midst of a usually unfriendly and perverse world (Philippians 2: 15). The course of faithful Christians in following Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2: 19-21) will of course appear to worldly people as immoderate, intemperate, rash and even extreme. But Christians by their conduct, while continuing faithful in the study, practice and spread of the Truth, should as far as reasonably possible seek in every God-pleasing way to help unbelievers and unenlightened believers to see that the true Christian’s course is not really an immoderate, rash or extreme one, but is the right, proper and reasonable one (Romans 12: 1).
Often by not attacking errors too aggressively, presenting the Truth winsomely and testifying to the great joy and other blessings that have come to us as enlightened Christians, we can help to overcome the tendency of others to regard us as being immoderate, rash, intemperate and extreme. Moderation thus helps us in presenting the Truth to those we are seeking to lead into becoming disciples of Christ and to have success therein.
Enemies of Moderation
Moderation has many enemies, personal and impersonal. Among its impersonal enemies are pride and selfishness. Ostentation – the love of appearing well before others – and stubbornness and rebelliousness are enemies of moderation. Cowardice and laziness are enemies also, especially when one is unbalanced and extreme through failure to develop sufficiently to be moderate. Favoritism for family, friends, or home and native land keeps some from being moderate. Satan, our greatest personal enemy, and his underlings, work in and through the world and the flesh and the above mentioned other bad qualities.
Moderation can be and is often abused in many aspects of life by one’s becoming unbalanced and extreme in one way or another, as has already been indicated. Some overabuse moderation by claiming that we are to have a less than full consecration, and insufficient faithfulness in carrying it out, as distinct from a full consecration to do God’s will in self-and world-denial, and full faithfulness in seeking to carry it out. There is great abuse in moderation by many in drinking alcoholic beverages. No true Christian should ever be intoxicated. Another abuse of moderation is overdoing or underdoing in one or another of the seven steps in the Christian life: (1) self- and world-denial, (2) meditation on God’s Word, (3) watchfulness, (4) prayer, (5) spreading the truth of God’s Word, (6) developing in God and Christ’s character-likeness and (7) suffering for loyalty to God’s Word.
The latter part of our text, “The Lord is at hand,” implies that it belongs specially to our time – the closing of the Gospel Age and the opening of the Millennial Age. Surely there never was a time when this counsel of moderation was so much needed as now!