Temperance

Jane Olson

READ : 2 Peter 1:3-11

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and

virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with . . . love.

(vv. 5- 7)

In America, we tend to associate temperance with history lessons on the era of
Prohibition. But temperance really is just an older word for the spiritual gift of
self-control. In fact, temperance doesn’t mean prohibiting anything; it means knowing when
to say yes or no to our desires. In that way, temperance is the practical application of
prudent thinking.

As Christians, we affirm that the pleasures we receive from things like food and drink
are good. The problem comes when we pursue pleasure at the expense of everything else.
Then a good pleasure becomes a deadly sin.

The early church believed that temperance was an indication of spiritual maturity and
that practicing temperance led to the cultivation of other spiritual gifts, including
love. In fact, Peter tells us that self-control is a sign that we are growing in our
knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Temperance is a spiritual discipline. Those of us who struggle to control our appetites
know how much of a spiritual battle self-control can be. We are in good company. Many holy
people have struggled with temperance. St. Augustine once prayed, “Lord, give me chastity,
but not yet.”

But God does not leave us on our own. He has given us his own Spirit to keep us from
falling, and to help us when we fail.

PRAYER

Lord, by your Spirit help me gain self-control.