In the mid 1980s, there was a great show on television, at least my brothers and I thought. The show was called The Master and was about a graying ninja master who was training a young upstart martial artist. Despite growing old, the ninja master dominated his opponents every episode. His moves and weaponry wowed us and enabled him to have complete control over his adversaries. After thirteen episodes, the series was canceled and to this day I cannot imagine why.
Like those beat-up dudes on TV and in the movies, we are all susceptible to things that can master us. However, sometimes we do not even realize that we are mastered.
God speaks to this issue in Proverbs 25:16, “If you find honey, eat just enough — too much of it and you will vomit.” Honey, of course, is one of the sweet things in life. Personally, I like it on cereal as opposed to sugar. Honey is representative of those things that are sweet in life, that is anything enjoyable and good. Do you have any activity that you love and enjoy doing? Do you own items or have treasure that bring you pleasure? If so, then you have honey in your life!
The pitfall of honey is that it could become a potential master bringing about negative effects. So what is the Lord saying through his word here? If you find something enjoyable in life, develop the ability to control it and do not allow your appetite for it to control you. In the Biblical book of Philippians the Apostle Paul writes that, “I have learned to be content in all circumstances.”
I believe God is pointing out to us that life is not just about honey. Just think about it — if our palates are only consuming honey, we are missing out on the wonderful assortment of “food” that is at our disposal. If you have kids, chances are you tell them to eat their veggies before having dessert. By just doing the enjoyable things in life we become self-focused and miss out on so much of what it means to be healthy and productive in our lives.
If we are just self-focused we miss out on the opportunities to do service for others, to practice generosity in big ways, and to live out self-denial. When we make God our master, we have at our disposal the ways of Jesus Christ. And as Philippians 2 says, “your attitude should be like Christ ... who though being God set aside heavenly position and became a servant.” When we choose to follow Christ he leads us to go for a balanced diet and this takes developing mastery over self, also known as self-control.
What is mastering you? What do you find yourself day dreaming about that you just need to have? Think through where you are in danger of overindulging and take action. A great first step for anyone desiring to better his or her life is to bring discipline and self-imposed sacrifice into ones life. I invite you to take some time to evaluate how balanced your life is.
Imagine what would happen in our community if each of us lived in a way where we were freed from overindulgences and obsessions. Imagine the deep joy that we would find individually as we lived for purposes beyond our self. Our neighbors, co-workers and friends would benefit from our balanced approach to life and our kids would have living examples that life is not just about self. I am sure everyone would love this rendition of The Master.
Norm Byers (Twitter @NormByers) is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, with two locations meeting Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at Petoskey Middle School and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. More information is online at www.genesiswired.com.