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Words to Live by: MIAT, GALE, and NEGU

January 30, 2012


There are certain phrases that Christians repeat, that are not actually based in Scripture.  Chief among these is “God helps those who help themselves.”  But second to that is “Moderation in all things.”  I can’t argue that moderation isn’t a good principle; it is one that Scripture emphasizes:

  • “For everything there is a season” (Ecc 3:8),
  • “Let your moderation be known to everyone” (Phil 4:5),
  • “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things” (1 Cor 9:25),
  • “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty” (Prov  23:21),
  • “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18),
  • “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Prov 25:28)

The “in all things” is where I see a big problem.  Using “Moderation in all things” as part of your belief system may not encourage you to sin, but it helps make excuses to indulge in things we shouldn’t.

So I say yes to “moderation” and no to “in all things.”

That means I say no to moderation in some things, and instead believe in abstinence.  Like drinking.  Like gambling.  Some Christians practice moderation in these areas, and I’m not in judgment of them.  I’ve been to Bible studies where beer is passed around and church functions where raffles are held.  It’s just not something I participate in.   I only mention this to challenge you to think about it.

Then there are also things we shouldn’t use moderation in, not because we should abstain but because we should indulge.  Like studying the Word of God.  Or worshipping.  Or meditation.  Or praising.  Don’t be moderate there.  Be abundant, be prolific!

I take the idea of moderation one step further.  I read this idea in a book and I think it’s very wise, especially coming from someone who is not a Christian.

‘Make it a Treat’ is similar in spirit to ‘everything in moderation,’ but still very distinct. ‘Moderation’ suggests a regular, low-level intake of something.  MIAT asks for more austerity; it encourages you to keep the special things in life special. – Sarah Silverman

Although she was referring to things like pot, I still like the philosophy.  Think of chocolate.  Or manicures.  Or Disneyland.  Make It A Treat.


For the last three years, I have driven down a street in Lake Forest to get to work.  There was a crossing guard there on duty every morning (excluding holidays and school vacations).  She would stand on the corner, waiting for kids to escort across an intersection.  The thing is, she had a lot of down time.  When there were not kids approaching, she didn’t sit in her folding chair.  She stood at the corner and waved and smiled at every car that passed.  Some days when I wasn’t feeling great, her wave was the highlight of my morning.  She didn’t get paid extra to wave.  It wasn’t in her job description to smile.  But she clearly believes in my motto:  Give A Little Extra.  I was sad to see she isn’t working that corner this year.

At work, I’m constantly confronted by “That’s not my job.”  I also encounter a “What’s in it for me?” attitude a lot.  I work with salesmen.   They’re not going to do anything that is one degree outside their minimum scope of responsibility if there’s not a “spiff” in it for them.  Monetary incentive is their only motivator.  It’s very frustrating.

It’s like the idea “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Essentially, always do a little better than you have to.  This gets recognized and does pay off (maybe not immediately).  I try to GALE in my friendships, in my homework, in my marriage, in my housework.  I don’t always succeed, but having the philosophy at heart helps to push yourself a little further.


There was an incredible little girl in my community.  My family knew her well.  She was twelve when she passed away this month from inoperable brain tumors. The company I work for sponsored her charitable foundation so I got to be involved in helping spread the word about her cause and attend some events for her.  Jessie’s motto was NEGU:  Never Ever Give Up.  She didn’t give up.  Her parents will not give up, even now that she is with Jesus.  Jessie inspired other children with cancer, and even healthy adults around the world, to NEGU.  I’ll never forget that lesson, or Jessie.  Learn more about the NEGU Foundation.

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