Moderation in all things is pretty good advice, and many a Christian takes it as Bible truth. But is it? Going through the Bible you won’t find the quote “moderation in all things” in any Bible verse, but you will find similar advice. Here are some verses that present the idea that we should be moderate in our lives and behavior.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. – Philippians 4:5 NKJV
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. – 1 Corinthians 9:25a NKJV
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls. – Proverbs 25:28 NKJV
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; – Ephesians 5:18 KJV
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty. – Proverbs 23:21a NKJV
Within these verses are a couple of key words: moderation, temperate. These are desirable traits of the believer. Moderation is the opposite of excess, and the Bible clearly teaches that we should be known for our moderation – it doesn’t explicitly say moderation in all things, but it does say that our very nature should be marked by moderation. So if our moderation is to be known unto everyone, that could not be accomplished if we were moderate in only a few things. What is interesting though, when Paul writes about excess, he cautions about excess of wine (i.e. gluttony) but he says we should be filled with the Spirit implying you could never have excess of that. In the same vein, Proverbs tells us that if we do not live in moderation, i.e. if we are drunkards and gluttons, the hallmarks of excess, we will come to poverty.
Being temperate means to be under self control, or to have rule over your own spirit. It is strongly implied that if we can control ourselves, we would not fall into excess and thus be moderate. As a matter of fact, self control or temperance is a sign that we have the Holy Spirit within us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
So what is the origin of the quote “moderation in all things”? It is an English proverb that could have been inspired by the Bible, but it also has been attributed to other sources. Some say that in Aristotle’s Ethical Doctrine he advises to avoid extremes of all sorts and seek moderation in all things. There are also two early Roman playwrights, Terence and Petronius, we are given credit for first coining the phrase.
Regardless of the origin, living a life of moderation is good advice.