Too Much of a Good Thing

If you have found hone, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.” (Prov 25:16-17)

One of my favorite places to eat as a teenager was Franks Country Inn in Tulsa, OK. It was an all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant. The variety of meats and sides were incredible. Several bars of entrees and desserts awaited all those who dined there.

Not many people in my sphere of influence enjoyed Frank’s as much as me, but I did have a few friends in high school that did. So, at times after a Friday night football game, we might eat there. Or during finals week, when we had extended off-campus lunch, we might have lunch there.

During one such a week, a friend of mine named Alvin was eating…and eating…and eating. This guy put down plates of meat like nothing I had ever seen. In fact, it was the only time I have ever eaten at a buffet where the manager came out and actually asked him to stop eating because his consumption of food and stacks of plates was bothering other customers.

Was it gluttony? Probably.

And, we were certainly encouraging Alvin to eat more and more, because of the show that it had become. But he had certainly reached the point where he had too much of a good thing.

In the verses above, honey and a visit from a neighbor are good things.

Honey is sweet and pleasant to consume. And, a neighbor coming to visit is on opportunity to show them Christ. Both are good things. But you can have too much of a good thing and then it becomes counter-productive.

Someone who comes to your house incessantly, interrupting your rhythms often, interrupting meals with other people, coming inside without a knock or doorbell, are stepping over the social norms and are in danger of offending.

And consuming too much food – like honey – will make someone sick. So, yes, you can have too much of a good thing.

The Bible says that we can enjoy foods, but we must not be mastered or controlled by them (I Cor 6:12). We must exercise self-control both of our consumption and with our burdening on other people. We need to be careful with meddling in the lives of others, serving as busy bodies and becoming a general annoyance to our neighbor.

There can be too much of a good thing.

Seeing Clearly as an Antidote to Envy

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.” (Prov 23:17)

This can be a hard proverb to apply, because sometimes sinners (which is probably more of a reference to un-redeemed sinners) get things we want or get things that are not inherently evil.

For example, a man may cheat his way to a promotion that you want. It may be a promotion you are qualified for and desperately need, but when that corrupt person gets it, envy can set in.

Solomon says here that our primary desire should be that of fearing God and not wanting what others get.

So, what is envy? Envy is when we sinfully desire to have something or someone that God has not providentially intended for us to have. It is craving something to our advantage and over the advantage of another.

Envy is not a friend to fearing God, because fearing God accepts what God gives. Fearing God produced contentment and envy is never content. James 3:14-16 says, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

How do we combat an envious heart? And, by contrast, how do we promote a fear of the Lord?

One answer to that question is to see clearly. Hear these words from the Puritan Thomas Watson in The Godly Man’s Picture – “A humble man is willing to have his name and gifts eclipsed, so that God’s glory may be increased. He is content to be outshone by others in gifts and esteem, so that the crown of Christ may shine the brighter. . . A humble Christian is content to be laid aside if God has any other tools to work with which may bring him more glory.”

This attitude is the opposite of envy, isn’t it? This is the attitude that doesn’t long to possess what someone else has but rejoices that they have it. It is seeing God’s active providence clearly.

Charles Spurgeon, On the Reliability of God’s Word

“If we doubt God’s Word about one thing, we shall have small confidence in it upon another thing. Sincere faith in God must treat all God’s Word alike; for the faith which accepts one word of God and rejects another is evidently not faith in God, but faith in our own judgment, faith in our own taste. … Let us hold fast, tenaciously, doggedly, with a death grip, to the truth of the inspiration of God’s Word. … Everything in the railway service depends on the accuracy of the signals: when these are wrong, life will be sacrificed. On the road to heaven we need unerring signals, or the catastrophe will be far more terrible.” (Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism)

Just In Case You Missed It: May 22-27, 2023

Podcast of the Week: “The Graduation Speech You Won’t Hear This Year” (Kevin DeYoung, Crossway podcast)

Here are some blog posts worthy of your reading.