Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going Unleaded

I made a life-changing decision a few weeks ago: I, Zechariah Brewer, was going decaf.

 Never thought I'd say this.  Never thought I'd respect someone who drank decaf.  But here I am. I'm the guy who'll never let you drink a pot of coffee alone, no matter how late it is.

But I discovered something about myself right before I gave up the 'caf: when I drink coffee first thing in the morning, I'm guaranteed (aside from a forthcoming trip to the head) to get the "2:30 feeling" you hear about on the Five Hour Energy commercials.  This leads to me wanting a nap as soon as I get off.  Instead, when I start my day sans-caf, I just have to push through the groggy-sleepy feeling for an hour or so and then I'm fine.

First thing this morning, my eyes shot open at 5:45 and I already had a verse in my spirit:

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
-- Philippians 4:5

In a world where we are labeled by the most extreme portions of our lives, here is Paul exhorting us to moderation.  We Christians know what this can be like, as you get judged for life as a drunk by other Christians for the one time you said a certain wine was okay, or as a Communist because you didn't completely hate something President Obama did or said.  Heck, Jesus had to deal with this Himself:

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinner!
-- Luke 7:33-34

 So this means we should avoid all extremes, right?  Every single extreme out there?  Well, let's look back at Philippians 4.  The surrounding verses say:

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. (v. 4)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (v. 6)

Extremes in the things of God are okay, it turns out.  Shocking, eh?  So I looked up the Greek word for "moderation" and found out it means "appropriate."  In Christ, showing love, being holy, obeying the word of the Lord, and everything else we're commanded to do are always appropriate.  So I guess if there's some other thing I want to do that seems like sin, I should just wait for an "appropriate" time to, say, go out on the town and get drunk?

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 
-- I Corinthians 10:21-23

The word for "expedient" also means "profitable."  I can't be involved in the things of the world, "the cup of devils," and if I am going to drink, what's the point?  It's not profitable.  I find no joy, no benefit, from surrendering myself to something that is not of God.  This is how I've learned what to take out of my life, such as coffee, that may not have commandments against them, but are simply "not profitable."

Now some will tell me I'm taking things to the extreme, that the Bible doesn't forbid coffee, and I must be a Mormon to think caffeine is a sin.  Well, in their defense, the Mormons don't even believe that.  They believe in -- get this -- moderation.  The Bible doesn't tell us not to drink alcohol, so I'm taking things too far when I tell Believers not to bother with it due to its unprofitability.  But look Nazirites.  They were all commanded to set things aside for the ministry of the Lord: touch no dead body, drink no alcohol (or even grapes), and do not cut your hair.  They were set aside for the work of the Lord.  If we want to go further with the work of God, we have to set things aside that hinder us -- whether that be alcohol or caffeine or video games.

So let us be clear: in your devotion to Christ, in your obedience to His commandments, go to the extreme.  Identify with Him and none other.  In everything else, go to the extreme -- extreme moderation?  Yep.

What have you had to take out of your life to be moderate in all things?  What fat did you cut out to ensure your relationship with the Lord stayed strong?


  1. other important question: WHY DID I WAKE UP AT 5:45 AM!??!?! I slept until 12:30 Monday and until after 10 the rest of the week!

  2. Interesting!

    First, it made me think of this:

    I understand what you are saying about moderation. I think self-control is something most people struggle with their whole lives. I drink occasionally (and it is weird when a job with a Christian organzation asks what I think about alcohol) but I think alcohol is something that the Christian community does not know what to do with. We joke about not bringing wine to parties and the word beer seems almost bad in some circles.

    Have you read this?
    (I like point 6.)

  3. Oh no! I've tried going decaf before and I'm groggy and headache-y for about a week till I get used to it. That said, the one time I felt like I was spiraling downwards emotionally, cutting out coffee actually really helped.
    I agree with moderation, that's for sure. But I don't cut alcohol out completely... wine is used as a symbol of celebration so often in the Bible (eg: wedding feast at Cana). But like you said, moderation.

  4. The biggest thing I find with the alcohol issue is how much people like to defend it, like they're missing out on something or having something kept away from them if they can't drink it. These are the kind of people who fight for their right to drink, even one or two -- and if you fight for the right to drink (alcohol OR coffee), how can you say it doesn't have control over you?