Is there joy in temperate living?

ADVERTISEMENTS sometimes suggest that real happiness can be found in unrestrained indulgence of the appetites. For example, excessive eating or recreation may be portrayed as freeing. Slogans may imply that one has only to make greater use of certain products to find greater joy. The implication is that a temperate person is boring and is missing the ``action.'' Intemperance seldom advertises itself as intemperance. It comes to us under the pretense of innocent enjoyment or legitimate human need. But do we honestly ``need'' to abandon disciplined, temperate behavior? Is it innocent enjoyment to indulge far beyond what is necessary--or in some cases, to indulge at all? Is gratifying appetite and the physical senses the only way to have fun? Perhaps the issue could be reduced to a simple question: Do we worship our bodies or do we worship God? Sooner or later we all must learn to worship God. Our destiny is to awake to our complete dependence on God and our wholeness as His spiritual offspring. The teachings of Christian Science help us to learn more of our eternal relationship to our creator--a relationship that, if realized even a little, provides one with deep fulfillment. The Bible encourages us to turn to God for happiness. We read, ``Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.'' 1 In sharp contrast to contemporary advertising, we find the Bible recommending temperance, among other God-derived qualities, as ``the fruit of the Spirit.'' And the Bible declares that ``against such there is no law.'' We read further that ``they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.'' 2 Our Master, Christ Jesus, consistently counseled his followers to refrain from worshiping the things of the flesh. Though Jesus took nourishment as other men, he was never preoccupied with physical wants. His timeless message is ``It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.'' 3 Anyone who accepts Jesus' teachings as authoritative can conclude that lasting happiness is found only through serving and obeying God. The very first page of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,4 also points us to God in our quest to find satisfaction: ``To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.'' 5 Of course there is no harm in satisfying legitimate needs, in enjoying a good meal, for example. The error lies in imbalanced, excessive pursuit of physical wants. In harmony with the Bible, Christian Science teaches us to look away from the material body as the source and regulator of happiness. It encourages us to depend more and more on Spirit, God, for satisfaction and joy. Christian Science does not ask one to arbitrarily abandon necessary activities and functions. But it challenges and enables one to demonstrate a little more each day the Biblically established fact that God has created man with dominion. God has not created man a slave to recreation, food, or any material substance. God has made man to express integrity, joy, satisfaction, and completeness. God has not made any of His children dissatisfied. Therefore it's our nature to be free of material dependencies and addictions. We can exercise our dominion by acknowledging with understanding and conviction the omnipresent love of God. As we prayerfully realize that man is His unlimited, blessed offspring, we gain an unshakable contentment. The Christian Science textbook states it this way: ``Higher enjoyments alone can satisfy the cravings of immortal man. We cannot circumscribe happiness within the limits of personal sense. The senses confer no real enjoyment.'' 6 We can all find increasing satisfaction and harmony in moderation. There is genuine joy in temperate living. As we learn to express our God-given dominion, we'll find contentment that does not depend on certain quantities of matter. We'll discover that true joy comes from loving and obeying God. 1 Philippians 4:4. 2 Galatians 5:22-24. 3 John 6:63. 4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 5 Science and Health, p. vii. 6 Ibid., pp. 60-61.

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