Pat's Praise: Be Temperate

Pat Throckmorton 

The Bible is our handbook for Christian doctrine and conduct. In Paul’s letter to Titus, you will find instructions that outline what our behavior should be. “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded.

In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Titus 2:1-8 KJV.

Temperance is a scarce commodity these days. Temperance requires moderation and self-restraint. We must be wary of our indulging appetite for food and drink or passion for material things. The letter to Titus from Paul is only three short chapters, and I would recommend reading it in its entirety.

Temperance is a Spiritual gift from God; it strengthens our countenance. Just as tempered glass undergoes a controlled heating process, which increases its strength, so does this Spiritual gift brace and fortify us as individuals.

As our Spiritual power increases, we develop the self-mastery to live in moderation and protect ourselves from excess we may encounter (food, drugs, alcohol, anger, gambling, etc.). People of today are impatient and intemperate, uncertain and contentious. Guard against becoming one of those.

The Apostle Paul tells us to be led by the Spirit and to beware of works of the flesh. He tells us all the things we should not do (Galatians 5:13-21), then he tells us how we must live.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such, there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 KJV.

Perhaps we should be temperate in all things except one, and that deals with the Great Commandment.

“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord, our God, is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. ” Mark 12: 29-30 KJV.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 31, “And the second is like, namely this. Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” These are the only things we can rightly do in excess –love God with our complete being; the one thing we can do in excess is love.

Bishop’s (aka overseers, superintendents) are instructed in temperance. “Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled;[he must be sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher. Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].” 1 Timothy 3:2-3 AMP. Deacons receive similar directives in verses 8-13.

We hear and read a lot about tropical rainforests but not so much about temperate zones, which are comparatively rare and require a little more defining.

Tropical rainforests must have a minimum of 66 inches of rainfall annually (and sometimes exceed 390 inches!), plus an average monthly temperature that exceeds 64 degrees F. North Carolina met the rainfall criteria in 2020 with over 72 inches of rain! Temperate rainforests must achieve a minimum requirement for rainfall and temperature (55 inches of rain per year and 39 degrees F).

Whereas a temperate climate is mild and moderate, comfortable, so it should be with our persona. I want to associate with persons of a gentle, peaceful nature, those who practice self-restraint.

I want to feel safe in my relationships with others. At ease, I am not with those who are easily angered, nor the Debbie Downers who bring the baggage of bad news or negativity into every conversation.

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” 2 Peter 5-7 KJV.

Write down (or even better, learn by rote) the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. At the end of your day, have you lived by these fruits?

And, have you kept the Great Commandment. I fear I fail miserably at times, but tomorrow will be a better day. I will be praying for you and ask that you pray for me.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com