The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12:
"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. (NIV)
What exactly does it mean to be "mastered" by something? Some obvious examples that may come to mind are alcohol and drug abuse. Both drugs and alcohol have "mastered" many, many people. These masters are brutal to their slaves, often ruining their lives and bringing them to an untimely and violent end. Many organizations, both in the church and in secular society, have been created for the purpose of freeing those enslaved by drugs and alcohol.
For many years I thought I was "in the clear" because I didnít abuse drugs or alcohol, but is it possible to be "mastered" by something, letís say, a little more subtle? Are there things out there in the world that can enslave us in a kinder, gentler way?
To my embarrassment, I have found a slave driver out there that is very friendly and easy-going compared to drugs and alcohol. Itís called "a little extra food". You see, I have been forced to admit to myself that I have a problem with food. Itís not a huge problem. I donít eat all the time. Iím not eating now. (OK, I just finished several slices of watermelon. But that doesnít count because itís mostly water. Watermelon is more like a fruity beverage that doesnít require one to use a glass.)
How do I know I have this problem? Easy, I have a little extra fat on my body; about 10 to 20 pounds of it. How did it get there? Another easy answer. I consumed more food than my body required. OK now, letís try to get three for three. How do I get rid of it? Easy, IÖuhÖhmmmmmmm. Well, it's not so easy. I suppose the answer is something like "eat less" and "move around more". Unfortunately, I have found that thinking this and actually doing it are not the same thing. That "little extra food" has become my master.
And this master is really cool to hang around with. It never makes me get out of control or behave in an unseemly manner. It isnít going to destroy my career or my marriage. In fact, this master is really nice to me. It buys me pastries in the morning when I arrive to work after skipping breakfast, and it buys me candy in the afternoon when Iím trying to beat a deadline and Iíve just got to eat something. And, of course, my master is always ready to fetch me a snack from the fridge when Iím up late working on a comic strip.
Lately, however, the relationship has begun to sour. Iíve begun to wonder if this master really has my long term best interests at heart. You see, a little extra fat on my body isnít that big a deal. I can live with it; just buy some new slacks and life goes on. What I canít live with, however, is the slowly but surely ever-increasing blood pressure. This "little extra food" master is a really cool guy, but his long-term objective is to bring me to an untimely end. It seems I have uncovered his secret agenda, and Iím afraid our relationship will never be the same.