"The man who fears God will avoid all extremes."
- Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV
Years ago, I heard a life-changing teaching on the acronym “H.A.L.T.” It made me realize the poor choices we can make when we’re too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. The Bible says: “The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV) And there’s good reason for that. The apostle Peter wrote: "Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 AMP) The devil specifically targets those who are out of balance in an area—those who make themselves spiritually vulnerable by a behavior or attitude that is outside of God’s will.
Hungry. Scripture tells us that Esau, Jacob’s older brother, sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. (Genesis 25:29-34) Why? Because he was “famished,” and he let his stomach dictate his actions. The truth is that our appetites can lead us astray. They can lead us to overeat, or to eat unwisely. All of those poor choices can add up to poor health. And poor health can severely limit our opportunities and blessings, because God can’t use us to our full potential when we’re destroying our health. As Christians, we’re not to be hunger-driven, but Spirit-led. (Romans 8:14) If you don’t think that you have the potential to make unwise decisions when you’re very hungry, just think about Esau and the costly decision he made.
Angry. One of my favorite Scriptures says: "A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes." (Proverbs 14:29 TLB) This verse is near and dear to my heart because I have had to learn its truth the hard way. Anger can be costly. It can cost us our money, our health, and our relationships. It is one of Satan’s most effective means of getting believers off the good paths that the Lord has mapped out for us. James wrote: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20 NIV) God’s will for us is to be good listeners, to restrain ourselves from monopolizing a conversation, and to reign in our emotions when they threaten to control us. If you want to put out a welcome mat for the devil, let your anger get the best of you. On the other hand, if you want to be a hard target for the enemy, then take the apostle Paul’s advice: "When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]." (Ephesians 4:26-27 AMP) In other words, "Keep your head in all situations." (2 Timothy 4:5 NIV)
Lonely. Many people, including Christians, make poor decisions out of loneliness. If you ask them why they are in a relationship that they know is out of God’s will for them, they will often say, “I’m afraid of being alone.” This is a fear-based attitude; therefore, it is not of God. The Lord wants us to trust Him enough to endure seasons of loneliness, if necessary, to do His will. And He wants us to use times of loneliness to draw closer to Him, and to take comfort in the promise of His presence: “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP)
Tired. The Bible says, "God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest." (Psalm 127:2 TLB) The Lord knows that we are not at our best when we’re exhausted. For one thing, our faith doesn’t work very well. That’s because fatigue can hamper our focus. And focused prayers are the most powerful prayers we can pray. Tiredness can also put us in a negative frame of mind. Try to pray with a negative mindset, and you’ll quickly discover how ineffective your prayers can be. Exhaustion can also affect our work. It appalls me how many mistakes I can make when I’m sitting up late at night working, when I should be in bed. Scientists have even proven that excessive fatigue can have the same effect on us as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our decision-making abilities become impaired. When we put undue stress on our bodies and minds through extreme behaviors and attitudes, Satan can, and will, use our weakened state to lead us astray. The devil is constantly looking for vulnerable believers—don’t you be one of them!
Prayer: Lord, remind me often not to allow myself to become too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Fill me with wisdom and strength, and make me sensitive and obedient to Your Spirit’s leading at all times. Thank You that as I remain cautious and vigilant, I will walk in the paths of Your very best blessings!
- J. M. Farro