A morning news show interviewed a young woman who was overcoming “orthorexia.” Have you ever heard of it? This, I learned, is a real condition in which a person forms a “fixation on righteous eating” – becoming obsessed with eating properly. Well, you learn something new every day.
This eating disorder, while different from bulimia or anorexia, can become equally problematic. This woman said she would stand in front of her refrigerator for 20 minutes debating what she could eat that was good for her. Over time she developed a variety of maladies including rashes and even disruption of her monthly cycle. In her determination not to let anything unwholesome enter her mouth, she apparently was restricting herself to too much of a good thing.
Admittedly, most of us will never struggle with this problem – ours is more likely the opposite, trying to ward off the temptation to over-consume fat grams, calories, and other unhealthy ingredients in the foods we eat regularly. But can you see how even good things can become bad things in excess?
Work is a good thing for many reasons, yet we all know of people who have become workaholics, spending inordinate amounts of time on the job to the detriment of family, friends, even their physical and emotional well-being. The Internet (in most cases) is a good thing, but if we spend too much of our waking hours “surfing the web,” or being entertained by social media, we can easily neglect other important matters.
Being a devoted spouse or parent is good, but there are limits even for this. We all need our personal space, and children need to learn to become less dependent on mom and dad as they get older. So if your son or daughter is 30 years old and has never lived away from home, maybe it’s time for them to adopt a personal declaration of independence.
Too much of a good thing can apply even to activities such as attending church or reading the Bible. How? Well, for starters, if you’re in the church building every moment the doors are open, but aren’t providing spiritual leadership in your own home, maybe it’s time to reorder priorities.
I’ve known people that have gone from one conference on evangelism to another without ever speaking to another soul about Jesus Christ. James 4:17 states, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” The Scriptures also offer this challenge: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Just soaking up good information, no matter how much, has little value if we don’t put it to use.
Perhaps the classic example is the “rich fool” Jesus described. This businessman, apparently a farmer, had experienced a bumper crop, one that exceeded the capacity of his barns. “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (Luke 12:14-20).
Moral of the story: Anything to excess, no matter how good, is excessive.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.