Friday, March 6, 2009

The Virtue of Restraint or Temperance

So we journey on to our next virtue on the list of many. The virtue of Restraint or Temperance.

I don't know about you but I am beginning to get a fresh look at all the aspects the bible talks about. The things that were written so long ago still apply right here in the 21st Century. How amazing is our God that would inspire a book written by so many different authors but be completely relevant in all generations. Praise you God! You are so great!

Ok, back to the topic at hand. The virtue of Restraint or Temperance, what do they mean? Well, here are the word definitions of each.

Restraint - control of emotions or impulses. Self control, self discipline or self-denial

Temperance- moderation, self restraint in conduct, expression and indulgence of the appetites. Moderation or abstinence from alcoholic liquors

Restraint and temperance are something we have to exercise. Not by our own human power of course but by the help of the Spirit within. They apply to our everyday actions in life that with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to gain control of. Some types of behaviors we need to avoid others we must gain balance in.

Job 30:11 - because He has loosed my bowstrings and afflicted me, they have cast off restraint before me.

God had allowed great suffering and affliction to come into Job's life. Those around him thought because God had allowed such a thing, they no longer needed to restrain there own impulses to be cruel and to mock. Although God allowed Satan to sift Job like wheat, did not give others the free reign to lower there own virtues.

From what they could see with all the affliction befallen on Job, I assume, they believed that he had been disobedient to God in some way. They took the liberty and decided they had a right to let go and not exhibit restraint. Don't we often do the same, judge others without really knowing and decide we have a right to step over the line. Maybe in a word we say to them or a word gossiped about them.

What we can learn from this situation is that things are not always what they seem and we have no right to make judgment or break our own virtue. As this shows us, Job was not disobedient, nor had he sinned even though others thought so. Those that mocked were the ones disobedient and ended up sinning by not having restraint.

Other scriptures in the bible also talk about restraint. Let’s look and see what they have to teach us.

Hosea 4:2 - By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.

Proverbs 10:19 - In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

Psalm 119:101 - I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep your word.

So what do we see here? We see that breaking all restraint by swearing, lying, killing, stealing and committing adultery is not a good thing. By the phrase, with bloodshed upon bloodshed, I would take this to mean its never ending. One thing leads to another and another, which leads nowhere but into a pit of sin.

Also we see that restraining our lips is wise and keeping our feet from every evil way helps us keep the word of God. The tongue is like a fire we are told in scripture. When we speak, much sin can come from such a small part of our body. These two scriptures show us that we must watch our spoken word and where we take ourselves so we do not sin. We must be restrained in where we go, what we say, what we allow ourselves to hear and also see. If we do not exhibit self control in these areas we are likely to walk ourselves straight into sin. When we exercise restraint, we are reacting to the temptation by either abstaining or denying it. Either way the temptation is thwarted.

In a time like ours where there is so much choice, we must be extra diligent in the exercise of restraint or temperance. Self indulgent advertisement is everywhere, bidding us - Go ahead, have it your way. Sexual images assault us from every direction. We live in a self absorbed, self indulgent, self gratifying society. If we are going to be successful at walking in obedience to the word of God and living a righteous holy life, we must become intentional at the virtue of restraint and temperance. It will take our concerted effort to abstain from all the temptation around us.

We must eradicate the things in our life that tempt us to be self absorbed, self indulgent people and abide in the Lord. If we are to be victors over sin, we have to incorporate God into all the areas of our lives and begin to follow Him instead of lead ourselves.

For practical purposes, here are some types of behaviors that involve restraint:

*being thrifty or frugal (restraint is needed in spending our money)
*using temperance (restraint in what we eat or drink)
*having sexual morality or chastity (restraint in the area of sex)
*having modesty (restraint with respect to dress, behavior and speech)
*being politeness or having courtesy (refraining from discourteous words or actions)
*having honesty and integrity (refusing to yield to temptation to lie, cheat or steal)

I Peter 2:11 - Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.

Peter sums it all up for us. If we want our soul to be at peace and to maintain closeness with Christ, he begs us to abstain from the things our flesh lusts after. When we rely on Gods power to help us to use restraint our soul will not be at war but at peace.

Tomorrow we will move to the next virtue Courage or Fortitude. Hope to see you then, it's just getting good!

5 comments:

Joy said...

These two words really step on a lot of toes. It's easy to point at others when they aren't showing restraint, but boys it's hard to be honest with yourself. Thank you for these words you wrote.

Joy

Beth in NC said...

That is a great post (as always). Words we all need to ponder and live.

Bless you!
Beth

Tamara said...

I just wanted to let you know that I've recently discovered your blog and I so appreciate it...and admire your writing style..and the gift you have..of getting us to go deeper into the word of God..and into our own hearts..to sort out all that's keeping them cluttered !

Thanks so much for sharing your talent with all of us...

God bless you

Tamara

APRIL LORIER said...

Way to go, Sherri! Keep on teaching. All of us can use some reminders.

Sherri Watt said...

Joy,
you are so right they are two words that step on toes. They have stepped on mine at times. But if we want to be like Christ we must look at ALL God wants us to be not part. God Bless!

Thanks Beth! Love you girl!

Thanks April! I consider them great words coming from you.

Tamara,

So glad you enjoy my blog. I am humbled by your comment. I was never a writer and then God started giving me words to say. I only the tool he picks up to use at times.

God bless you too!