I have to admit that there are a few stories in the Bible that are just funny. One of my favorites can be a great way to introduce your kids to the importance of moderation in living the Christian life. You can find the story in Numbers 11:4 and following.
This is one of those stories that is best read directly from the Bible. The exasperation of Moses at the whining of the people is classic! Then for God to basically tell them that if they want quail…He will give them quail. In fact, they will eat so much quail for a month that it will ”come out of their nostrils”! I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a conversation that could happen in any home with whining children!
There are a couple of ways to have fun with the idea of having ”too much of a good thing”. Before you read the Bible story to your kids, call them to a meal. Serve them ice cream or some other treat as their entire meal (One non-nutritious meal won’t be bad for most healthy children and having only dessert for a meal will make the experience very memorable – especially if you are normally really healthy eaters.)
After they have enjoyed their unusual treat of a meal, inform them that from now on that will be the only food they will be given for every meal and snack. Very young children may get excited at first. Remind them that if they only eat ice cream, they can’t eat any of their other favorite foods like macaroni and cheese.
Or you can do the same thing by finding a recipe for ”manna” cookies and giving that to them for their meal. Explain that although we don’t know exactly what manna tasted like, we have enough of a description to know a little bit about what it may have tasted like. Ask them how they would feel if that were the only food they ever got to eat – every meal – every day – every week – every month.
In both cases your kids will probably admit that while it is fun to have a dessert like meal, having only it for a long time would be difficult. It’s too much of a good thing. Then read them the story of the manna and the quail. Explain that the Israelites had the same reaction. Only instead of remembering that God had just rescued them from slavery (which was horribly difficult), they focused on the fact that they missed the variety in their diet. They whined and complained until God got so frustrated He gave them so much quail, they probably never wanted to eat quail again. It was too much of a ”good thing”.
Read them a few verses like 1 Corinthians 6:12, Proverbs 25:27 and Proverbs 25:16. Explain that there are some things God knows we need or want that in moderation aren’t bad for us, but that if we want too much of it we can have too much of a ”good thing”. Have your kids think of examples in addition to the ones in the verses you read. Suggest that sometimes wanting too much of something – like money – means we even stop worshipping God and make the thing we want our idol. How deeply you can go with this conversation will depend upon the age and maturity of your kids.
Explain the concept of moderation. Help your kids think of ways to enjoy good things with moderation so they don’t get too much of a good thing or start worshipping the good thing instead of God. Have them share the good things they like so much that they could have problems with later if they are not careful to keep God first. Encourage them to use strategies that help them remember to use that thing in moderation.