Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
In the realm of economics there is a principle known as The Law of Diminishing Returns. Simply put, this law states that you may increase profit by decreasing the selling price of an item (and thus increasing the volume of sales) only up to a certain point, after which there is a decrease in the amount of profitability from such a course of action. Restated in plain country talk, the Law of Diminishing Returns merely says that you can have too much of a good thing—which is precisely the message of our text. As good and as sweet as honey is, too much of it will make you sick. That which is good in moderation often becomes toxic in excess. This principle applies both naturally and spiritually.
For example, everyone loves sunshine, but without shelter and clothes (and occasionally cloudy days) the sun will literally cook us and burn us. There is no way we could survive without wind and water; but let either of these come in excessive amounts for prolonged periods of time, and many lives are apt to be destroyed. Salt, too, is good; but too much salt is toxic. Everybody needs vitamins; but an overdose of some vitamins can be extremely hazardous, if not lethal. These are examples of too much of a good thing becoming a bad thing.
On a spiritual level, virtually any aspect of our message, when taken too far, can become counterproductive to the purpose of the Gospel. A classic example of this in Scripture is that of the Pharisees. And while it was a good thing to promote separation from the world and fidelity to the Law, the result of taking it to extremes received some of Christ’s severest rebukes. The modern Apostolic church, while resisting the pull and pressure of contemporary society to conform to the world, must constantly ward off the urge to overcompensate. And though we are nothing if we do not have Holiness, it is not necessary for our men to wear their pants pulled up to their navels to prove that they are not going to wear them down to their knees!
When we use Holiness or Faith simply to make a statement, we have too much of a good thing, and the Law of Diminishing Returns may be observed in action. One elder statesman observed: The only difference between someone with a strong Holiness standard and a Pharisee is the Holy Ghost. From our vantage point, it is obvious that the Pharisees possessed neither Faith nor Holiness, and their main concern was preserving the ability to boast about their outward appearance! Sadly, it appears that there are certain segments of Apostolics today who care for little else than to own the bragging rights for preaching the hardest message, even to the point of being harder than the Apostles! The Apostle Paul correctly discerned those who operate in such a fashion, and appropriately labeled them as those who “desire to make a fair show in the flesh!” (Gal. 6:12)
Many operate on the principle that if a little is good, then much must be better. But this is true only in a restricted sense; after a certain point, the negative effects begin to outweigh whatever positive results that had been realized. And the Law of Diminishing Returns teaches us that there are limits beyond which it is least futile—and at worst fatal—to go.
Rev. Tim D. Cormier
Reprinted from the August, 1999 issue of the Apostolic Standard.
(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.