Temperance is an uncommon and undervalued quality in our society. The Bible lists it as one of the nine fruit of the Spirit – the characteristics that demonstrate the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal 5:22-23). Therefore, temperance is an imperative attribute.
What is temperance? Simply put, temperance means self-control, self-restraint, self-moderation, and self-discipline. It is the ability to exercise control or power over one’s own thoughts, speech, emotions, desires, attitude, actions, and conduct.
Certainly God’s Spirit provides the believer with much needed help in this area. Indeed, man is unable to control himself entirely without divine assistance. Yet, scripture bears out that the believer has the ultimate responsibility for pursing a life of temperance and bringing one’s flesh under subjection.
How do we do this? The Apostle Paul provides a wonderful illustration in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He likens temperance to a runner training for a race and a fighter training for a contest. An athlete cannot merely show up at a competition and expect victory. There first comes a tremendous amount of sacrifice, discipline and preparation. And so it is with the Christian. We cannot simply expect to live victoriously without first engaging daily in the spiritual disciplines that develop self-control and Christ-like character.