This past summer, my family went on a diet. Or, more accurately, made a lifestyle change. We started counting calories, but the key was learning correct portion sizes. For spaghetti, that is a cup. For vegetables, a half cup. It’s not enough to simply guess, because we will usually take more than we’re supposed to have. We think it doesn’t hurt to cheat a little. After a while you do learn how to estimate the serving size visually, but it’s important to continue to use measuring cups. Why? Because, over time, your perceptions change. One cup might expand to a cup and a half, because you aren’t paying close attention anymore, and you don’t have an accurate standard against which to measure. It’s been a while since you saw what a true cup looked like. An additional 25 calories isn’t much, but if you do that four times a day, you’ve consumed an extra 100 calories. You still think you’re dieting, and you wonder why your “diet” isn’t making a difference anymore.
How often have you heard someone order a salad, claiming to be eating healthy? It may have quality, nutritious ingredients in it, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Look at all that cheese, the meat, the high-fat dressing, and the enormous bowl it is in. I looked online before going to one of my favorite restaurants and discovered that my favorite salad there contains almost 1,000 calories – over 2/3 of my daily calorie intake. If I hadn’t looked at the store’s nutrition guide, I would have happily chosen it, and felt virtuous for doing so.
We can apply all these concepts spiritually, as well. Sometimes we get busy and stop reading the Word, stop studying, stop questioning – not thinking anything has changed. But over time, we find that our judgment has slipped a little. What we used to know to be wrong doesn’t seem quite as bad anymore. That harsh line between black and white, right and wrong, blurs to gray. It’s like the extra portions — without the Bible to provides a standard against which we can measure our actions, thoughts, and attitudes, we feed ourselves all kinds of unhealthy things. Things we might even think are nourishing. We need to read labels, consult the guidelines. God’s Word tells us, clearly, if something is good or bad. We never have to wonder if we’re following a fad that will change. It’s the eternal lifestyle plan. And it’s always the perfect size.