• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Values — TEMPERANCE — No Excesses

The word no longer comes up in everyday conversation, but it is a fundamental principle for living a Godly life.

Temperance is exercising moderation or self–restraint especially in things that have to do with pleasures of the flesh, eating, drinking, indulging in the urges to overdo and engage in some activity to the point of obsession. Temperance is a kind of barometer that signals us to stop, to pull back; to resist the urge to go too far or to partake at all, especially if it means eating the food offered to idols.

Consider this:

“Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God). I am speaking as to intelligent (sensible) men. Think over and make up your minds [for yourselves] about what I say. [I appeal to your reason and your discernment in these matters.] The cup of blessing [of wine at the Lord’s Supper] upon which we ask [God’s] blessing, does it not mean [that in drinking it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the blood of Christ (the Messiah)? The bread which we break, does it not mean [that in eating it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the body of Christ? For we [no matter how] numerous we are, are one body, because we all partake of the one Bread [the One Whom the communion bread represents]. Consider those [physically] people of Israel. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners of the altar [united in their worship of the same God]? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is [intrinsically changed by the fact and amounts to] anything or that an idol itself is a [living] thing? No, I am suggesting that what the pagans sacrifice they offer [in effect] to demons (to evil spiritual powers) and not to God [at all]. I do not want you to fellowship and be partners with diabolical spirits [by eating at their feasts]. You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demons’ cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table. Shall we thus provoke the Lord to jealousy and anger and indignation? Are we stronger than He [that we should defy Him]? All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. 1 Corinthians 10:14-23 AMP

The flesh, our basic human nature is driven to excesses and over-indulgences because of our sin nature. Our senses before we are born again are not easily satisfied. We can eat and drink ourselves to death even consuming what in moderation is good. Therefore, temperance in all things is essential. There are only two things we cannot excess in doing, loving God and giving generously to others. In these two alone is blessing and honor to God.

Now temperance is not a license to indulge in anything as long as we do it in moderation. There is no such thing as just using a moderate amount of an illicit drug or even a sip of alcohol for the alcoholic, or engaging in a host of other life stealing activities that leaves it’s addict’s empty, broken, destitute debilitated and devoid of life.

Temperance is not to be applied to sinning. We are not given a pass to sin in equal portion to our acts of righteousness. All sin is sin and all leads to the same reward. Jesus shed His blood to redeem us from the wages of sin, that is death.

Temperance is a protector of our good health, our mental stability and peace of mind. Temperance helps to guard us against foolish hasty unprofitable decisions by prompting to us to always look a little deeper, take time to consider the result of our actions before we commit them, especially to know when to stop even before we begin to enjoy.

See also: Galatians 5; 1 Peter 1



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