Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise-why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool-why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. Ecclesiastes 7: 16-18 NIV
I looked this passage up on Search God’s Word, which is a super cool site, by the way (update: site no longer exists). You can see verses in the original Hebrew and Greek and get translations of the individual words. It’s nice to be able to try and piece together for yourself what the original author meant when he wrote it.
The original Hebrew doesn’t completely support the final phrase “The man who fears God will avoid all extremes” from verse 18 in my humble opinion. At least it’s not directly stated. It is implied, especially when you take the prior two verses into consideration. I checked a commentary or two, and those scholars do come to the same “avoid extremes” conclusion so I feel comfortable stating that this is a Biblical principal on which I can stand.
Yes, this is still a parenting site, and I’m all about staying on topic. The reason I bring this particular thought process to you is that the avoidance of extremes is indeed a foundational principal in my life and my parenting. Do I avoid all extremes? Of course not. That would be extreme.
Heh, heh, heh. Is your mind spinning yet?
I wrote about balance recently, and wanted to expand on that thought process here. Extremes keep us off balance, and are often harmful. For example, water is good for us, right? We should drink water every day. In fact, many experts recommend we drink a lot of water every day. But. It is actually possible to drink too much of it and knock your sodium levels too low.
So. What does this have to do with parenting?
If you look at the created world, you’ll find balance and tension everywhere. Natural systems are held in check with each other. The human body itself is a great example of systems in balance. If one part of the body gets sick or injured, other parts are affected. We live in an ordered and balanced universe; the more scientific discoveries that are made the more we learn how things work together and balance one another.
Now take a look at human society. What do you see more of, balances or extremes? Here in America I see extremes. From people who live a completely hedonistic lifestyle to those who withdraw from the culture completely and everything in between, there’s no lack of opportunity to live in an extreme.
Choosing the path that’s right for my family takes thought and intention. And it’s more than that. I’m not just making a way for my children to get through to adulthood. I’m also laying their own foundations so they have the means to make their own decisions wisely when they become parents. Will they agree with everything we taught them? Probably not. I don’t agree with everything my parents said. I hope that the boys stick with the principals that are most dear to Hubby and me, like living a life that is more in balance than off.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who avoid extremes.
Image courtesy of by mondoagogo, via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.