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Temperance: An Introduction

Arvin Pirness | The Voice of Zion January 2024 - Home and Family Article --


Temperance is a word from Middle English, derived in the 1400s. It means self-restraint – specifically, purposeful avoidance of certain behavior. This word recalls the Temperance movements of the 1800s and early 1900s, consisting of marches that protested the drinking of alcohol. Drunkenness and alcoholism caused disruption and sorrow in families, so Temperance Societies sought Prohibition, a law that made alcohol sales illegal, seen as a way to end family dysfunction and suffering.


For a child of God, temperance is self-directed, not forced by laws. Though drinking alcohol is legal after a certain age, it is sin. Believers abstain from alcohol and drugs that cause drunken effects.


In other activities, we wish to live our lives in happy and healthy moderation. If we over-indulge in pleasures, these pleasures can harm our wellbeing. Conversely, if we deny ourselves all pleasure, we risk missing out on rich experiences that God bestows on humankind. Balance is key.


Temperance is not only important to believers; it is also considered to be a virtue by people in many areas of life, including philosophy and psychology and technology. It goes beyond specific religions or cultural beliefs. Moderation is a concept that helps us stay satisfied with what we have. It helps us live according to our values. 


What is temperance?

  • Self-regulation: being mindful or aware of what decisions you are making and what their outcomes might be.

  • Knowing the balance of what is considered appropriate or moderate and what is considered excessive or extreme.


Discussion question:

  • How do you learn to self-regulate? Who or what teaches you that?


How can we learn moderation?

  • By example: how do your parents navigate through life? How do others around you act?

  • Role models: in your own life, in your community, from history

  • Instruction: teachers of all types guide and direct behaviors

  • Life experiences: from the consequences of our actions


Discussion questions:

  • What examples of moderation do you see in your parents’ lives?

  • What examples of moderation can you find in Bible characters or Bible stories?

  • Share an example of a life experience that has taught you to regulate your actions.


Self-reflection

  • We can look back on outcomes from choices we’ve made.

  • We can look forward and consider what outcomes we can expect from deciding one way or another in some area of life.


Discussion questions:

  • Think of a scenario in life where a tough decision needs to be made. List what options are available and what the outcomes of each option would be.

  • What are some moments in life where we should exercise temperance? 


Why is temperance a fruit of the Spirit?

  • The Bible teaches us that temperance is a fruit of the Spirit, which means that it is a characteristic that is produced in us by the Holy Spirit.

  • Read Galatians 5:22,23 to find out what all the fruits of the Spirit are. 

  • The inclusion of temperance underscores its fundamental place in the life of a believer.


Discussion questions:

  • What is the opposite of temperance?

  • What is the difference between self-regulation and self-righteousness?


What can we learn about temperance from God’s Word?

  • Read Proverbs 16:32. This verse emphasizes the importance of self-control and the ability to govern one’s emotions.

  • Read or listen to the “What Does the Bible Say?” article in this issue of The Voice of Zion.


Discussion questions:

  • If we don’t exercise temperance, we risk harming our conscience. How might this happen?

  • Tell some examples from the Bible where God’s children demonstrated the fruit of temperance and benefitted from it.


How does temperance show in our lives?

  • God’s children may endure negativity and even violence from the surroundings where we live, but our response must be gentleness, not retaliation.

  • God’s children can endeavor patiently because we know our Lord is near (Phil. 4:4–6).


Discussion questions:

  • What are your values? What role does temperance play in these?

  • How do we help one another get to heaven? How do we remember that our action and choices have consequences to others?


We glory in tribulations also knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope. (Romans 5:3,4 KJV)


We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3,4 ESV)


Conclusion


The pursuit of temperance is not without challenges.


In a world that often favors excess and instant gratification, maintaining a disciplined and moderate lifestyle can be difficult. 


The believer acknowledges these challenges, and that is why it is good to gather and visit. There the Spirit provides guidance on how individuals can navigate these challenges, by faith. This guidance helps us make good decisions in moments of temptation. 



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