Spiritual Sanity

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I suggest there is a point of diminishing returns in investing our emotions. Not to be aware when that point arrives is immoral and unreasoning. What is this point of return? The point of diminishing return is when the energy that you are putting into something begins drastically to exceed the improvement you have gotten out of it. It is a call to a return to rationality and a correct sense of proportion. The chapter and verse I would use to back up this is “The zeal of thine house has eaten me up,” in the Gospel Of John 2:17. This line was used when Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple.

In the world today the zeal for money easily gets out of hand. This is certainly true in religion and the different expressions of faith. It is also true in business, education, government and any and all manner of things. When Jesus saw the money changers in the temple, it was clear to him the point of diminishing return had been reached. There was an overzealous concern with money. In our lives, our families, our  churches and even our businesses, do we look for the point where we have “gone overboard” on money? Money is a justifiable concern in life and business, but is not the only concern. A dependable product or  service that helps others and is not unfairly priced also concerns business. In business that is how your product shows caring and “real concern” for the consumers. In life there is a point at which money can begin to eat up the more responsible and spiritual values that come first. Are we keeping watch with a level head for this point as we should? People tend to go overboard most on money and sex.

In spiritually responsible living and religious stewardship a balanced sense of proportion must be maintained. All of us know people who don’t know when to be quiet or when to let a matter rest. We look and think the garrulous person talking unceasingly on one subject is not aware of crossing the point of diminishing return. By going too far on the subject, past the point of diminishing return, a negative reaction sets in. The positive begins to sour when the point of diminishing return sets in. Thrifty easily turns to stingy if carried too far. Interest turns to boredom when the speaker has gone too far too long. Fair warning turns into unfair nagging if carried too far. A reasonable and healthy interest in sexuality becomes excessive, then obsessive, then a mad possessiveness. Jealousy gone too far very often leads to divorce. Emotions are like rivers that unwatched can flood, carrying us with them. Protective mothers slip and become overly protective mothers.

Unattractive and excessive pushing can happen in religion too. While it is good to witness, there are some who over-witness just as there are those who under-witness, Religion is a good thing but you can ruin a  good thing with too much of it, just as you make a mistake with too little of it.

I know what and when to do about religion takes thinking. Augustine of Hippo is said to have prayed when young “Make me good, but not now.” In a similar way, when I was a boy, people over-witnessing and pushy about religion used to make me pray, “Lord, give me religion but not like that.” My father said when I was five years old he asked me how I liked a radio preacher to whom he was listening. I said, “If that’s faith, forget it, thank you.” My father laughed and laughed. Or so I was told. I can remember none of it.

In religion too much can sour but too little can malnourish. It helps us to have that point where we know to pull up our emotions, exercise our spiritual sanity, avoiding the excessive attitude on anything that can  diminish Christ, love and your spiritual reasoning. We need to keep a spiritual balance. I suggest you check around the point of diminishing returns. Then use a sense of proportion, keep a transcending balance faith that helps you to guide yourself in life. This puts a certain sweet saneness and mercy in our practice of religion and that completes our spiritual affirmations. Yes, we are reborn of the Spirit enthusiastically, but our regenerating Spirit is loving, kind, transcending and ultimately sane. What is a sane and loving person? The one who has the common sense to build his or her life, not on the trendy, sinking, shifting quick sands of up and down materialism, not on some goal making you feverish and extreme, but on that unchanging Rock who is the understanding compassionate Christ, ever our Lord..


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.