Devotional - Health topics

Avoiding Extremes

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. Eccl. 7:16-18, NIV.

Most of us are not in danger of exercising too much, but it happened to my sister. She caught jogging fever several years ago, and it seemed to take control of her world. She became a long-distance runner, ran the Boston Marathon several times, even ended up on the cover of Runner's World magazine.

Her devotion and commitment put me to shame. While I merely ran 15-20 miles a week, she religiously logged 100 miles a week. She was up at 4:00 a.m. every day to get in her 14-mile run before work, and went to bed every night by 8:30.

I told her that I didn't think you needed to run that much to enjoy a healthy life. In fact, I had heard that too much running could even be bad for you. But she wouldn't ease off. She was clearly possessed.

Of course, she was as lean as a whippet, but not only had she shed all excess weight, she began to shed needed calcium as well, making her bones brittle and dangerously fragile. When she mysteriously broke her arm after a minor fall, her doctor convinced her that she had to make a change.

She still runs more than I, and just completed a marathon in San Francisco, but her training regimen is more moderate and her life more balanced.

As with all things, a line separates the disciplined from the fanatical. Solomon even cautioned us against being "overrighteous," for there is danger in all extremes. For example, until Martin Luther fully understood the biblical concept of righteousness by faith, he denied himself food, sleep, and warmth, and studied and prayed himself to exhaustion and dismay. His "overrighteous" zeal nearly destroyed him.

Balance is certainly the law of nature and a requirement for our physical and emotional health. Our joy will come in finding that balance between work and play, exercise and rest, study and diversion, religious zeal and equally desirable qualities of moderation, patience, and tolerance.

What can you do to live a more balanced life?

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.