A Look at Temperance
It is either we control our appetites, passions and desires or they lord over us. The thought of being controlled is not pleasing, for God in His divine wisdom gave man the power of choice. How then are many ceding that power of choice? What is the implication of losing that power? How can we regain it?
Character is Everything
A famous quote says “Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.”- Unknown. This passage tells in brief how many have and are losing the war against self. It all emanates from the mind. Scripture says “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven…. “, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat…” Isaiah 14:13, Daniel 1:8 Therefore, we need to pay attention to our thoughts, they are little match sticks that ignite fires.
“There is an intimate relation between the mind and the body, and in order to reach a high standard of moral and intellectual attainment the laws that control our physical being must be heeded. To secure a strong, well-balanced character, both the mental and the physical powers must be exercised and developed. What study can be more important for the young than that which treats of this wonderful organism that God has committed to us and of the laws by which it may be preserved in health?”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pg 601.
More often than not, we belittle thoughts and those tiny bad little habits, what harm can they possibly cause. We tend to think they have no bearing on the bigger picture. The children of Israel somehow also fell into that kind of thinking. The Lord commanded “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out ALL the inhabitants of the land before you…” Numbers 33:51,52. God’s command was explicit.
Later we are told, “There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: ONLY in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained” Joshua 11:22. By then Gaza, Gath and Ashdod must have been too insignificant to cause the Israelite worries. They just could not fuss with these little tribes who posed no threat. They forgot about Numbers 33:55, “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”
The Narrative Changes
Fast forward into the book of Joshua, the narrative has changed, the Philistines now lord over Israel, the subjects have become the masters. God raises a warrior to rescue Israel in for of the Nazarene, Samson, he too is snared by a harlot from Gaza, (Judges 16:1). He inflicts wounds on the Philistines, but they are too much a nation to drive out now. 1 Samuel 17:4 then tells us of a man, a champion from Gath, standing at almost 3 metres tall, with a coat weighing 57kilograms, when he spoke the armies of Israel scampered away in fear. He defied the armies of the living God, that is what our tiny little bad habits do. They take root, wax strong and tower over us, they become our greatest sources of unhappiness. Like Israeli armies, we would set out to wage a war against these habits, but when they come out shouting, we’ll scamper away in fear. “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…” Roman 2:24
In All Things
Now therefore brethren, let us be temperate in all things, lest our passions, appetites and desires lord over us, and we be prisoners of our own selves. Thus making the next generations to follow prisoners too. While the road to temperance might be slow and often painful, the reverse process can happen so quickly, it’s a downhill stretch. Let us learn not to justify our failures, not to settle for less. Victory is promised in the name of the Lord, it is a strong tower and righteous run to it. We fail when we limit our obedience to what we deem “possible.” God is not limited by the “possible” because with Him all things are possible. He can raise in us the spirit of a young David who faced his giant, he can revive in us the spirit of Daniel who purposed in his heart.
“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28