All things in moderation; the key to applying it well lies in a useful understanding of the adage. All things does not mean all things, but instead carries a qualitative meaning—all things possessing some degree of usefulness, while possessing no property of significant harm. For example, no reasonable person would suggest that some amount of dirt must be consumed in even the smallest amounts at the largest intervals. I considered using a more obviously offensive material, but for the sake of congeniality, I will use dirt. While it may be reasonable to believe that there may be an amount of dirt small enough and consumed at large enough intervals that would render it innocuous to the human body; I do not believe there is any amount or interval of consumption that would be considered beneficial to the human body. Some may point out, perhaps correctly (I am not a biologist), that there may be minerals found in dirt that are beneficial to the human body—perhaps even essential. However, the fact that mineral is distinguished from dirt betrays the obvious nature of the two substances and begs the application of moderation in deciding their qualitative and quantitative value—which application is precisely the definition of moderation.
This brings us to the equally important word in the old adage, moderation. It is necessary to distinguish perfect moderation from moderation. Perfect moderation means the perfect amount of a thing, in a perfectly pure state. Moderation means an amount of a thing that provides a significantly positive effect without providing a significantly negative effect that outweighs the positive. To drink water in perfect moderation would then mean, to drink the amount perfect for your body and activity level, at a perfect rate of consumption, that is perfectly pure. Any reasonable person can see that this is impossible in this world. To the Christian who tells me that “all things are possible…” I say, possibility does not dictate probability, and, refer to paragraph number one—but that is a discussion for another time. To drink water in moderation means, to drink water which is constructively pure in an amount constructively useful to your body and activity level, at a constructively useful rate of consumption. Again, any reasonable person can see that this is quite possible even in this world. Let me state for clarity however, that perfect moderation, although impossible in it’s most literal meaning, should always be our goal, keeping in mind that virtue comes not only in the attainment of a goal, but also the striving for it.
Perfect moderation notwithstanding, even moderation, although possible, is not automatic. Simply apply the definition to anything with innate value and it is easy to see that moderation will only be achieved through diligent thought and consistent effort and increasingly accurate information. What’s more, moderation will continue to be moderation only with continued adjustments suggested by changing variables and the acquisition of more accurate information. We will never achieve moderation accidentally; we will only achieve moderation deliberately.
To believe that all things in moderation are valuable then means, to continually seek truth in order to apply it to life. Do not think that moderation will happen. Moderation does not happen, it is done. If I do not seek moderation, I will never find it or reap its benefits. To live in moderation means to seek spiritual health, physical health, emotional health, social health, and health in every other “al” ending word you can think of—balance.