André Baard

The Temperance of Christ

The great value of the temperance of Christ in us (1 Tim 3:2) cannot be overstated. It prevents us living life in the distorted opposite extremes. We should avoid all the extremes.

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself?

Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time?

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.

Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

Eccle 7:16-18

The trauma of sin causes these distortions, these wrinkles in the paper of our lives. These bi-polar extremes as below, these distortions in the human psyche Jesus promises to flatten. The very messianic calling was to bring the high places low and the low places high. The path to maturity is the path toward temperance.Trauma in the Greek means wounding. Wounding in us creates distortions in our ability to perceive reality accurately. Thanks be to God, Jesus heals our wounds and brings the extreme highs low and the low lows high. Jesus brings equilibrium, temperance.

‘A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.”

Isa 40:3-5

HILL (Overreaction) VALLEY (Underreaction) HIGHWAY (Way of Temperance)
1 Overstate Understate State
2 Overdone Underdone Do
3 Overreact Underreact React
4 Oversteer Understeer Steer
5 Overbusy Lethargic Peaceful
6 Overreach Underreach Content
7 Overdrive Underdrive Drive
9 Oversimplify Complicate Simple
10 Oversensitive Insensitive Sensitive
11 Over spiritualise Naturalistic Keep tension
12 Overthink Denial Think
13 Overcook Undercook Cook
14 Overemphasis Underemphasis Emphasise
15 Overcompensate Neglect Compensate
16 Overachieve Underachieve Achieve
17 Overshare Under share Share
18 Overload Underload Load
19 Overcautious Reckless Caution
20 Hyper-vigilant Careless Vigilance
21 Overzealous Apathetic Zeal
22 Overwork Lazy Work
23 Overfocus Wander Focus
24 Overdose Underdose Dose
25 Overtravel Over rooted Keep tension
26 Overcome Overcomer Move forward
27 Overboard Miserly Generous
28 Overstudy Procrastinate Study
29 Over realise Overlook Keep tension
30 Overrighteous Wicked Life giving ethics

Temperance is the character of Christ: being calm, cool and collected but not too calm cool and collected! Appropriately calm, cool and collected. Some occasions may call for you to be mad as hell and righteously angry, other times exhibit the patience of Job.

Temperance is shown in the famous poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

     If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools”

Temperance is formed through the process of tempering. Tempering steel for a sword blade is a process of taking raw steel through many repetitions of heating and quenching in oil. The heat of trial is the fire and the oil is of the Holy Spirit. This is tempering: our trials produce heat, the Lord then dips us successive times in the anointing. We should not quench the Spirit of God (cool down when He fires up) nor grieve the Holy Spirit (act when He says don’t, like Abraham did with Hagar). We become well tempered when we are not brittle under abrasion not soft under comfortable times! A tempered blade is very valuable to the trained warrior. It’s 10X the sword of a non-tempered sword.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

When we put on Christ, we put on temperance. Temperance wins, in the long run. Temperance is a gift. Although it is in us, like the seed of temperance is in us, the DNA is sure and clear, we need to cultivate  it or pursue it, it does not grow in the dark and dry places.  “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Tim 6:11

Temperance acts as a wall, a defense from ‘overdoing’ it and how we need this grace in our lives as the world see-saws between extremes more and more.

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