TEXT: Proverbs 16:32; Luke 21:34-36 (Spirit); Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (Time); 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (Desires); James 1:26; 3:2 (Tongue)
The students will be able to explain that true temperance is having self-control over our spirit, our life, our appetites, and our tongue, that we might keep in balance all aspects of our daily living.
The prime meaning of temperance is “self-control,” not being limited, as some think, to abstinence from liquor. Self-control will often include self-denial. Many times there are choices a Christian makes for the sake of others; things, associations, and relationships he will give up rather than be the possible cause of a brother’s stumbling. There are legitimate things or activities that the Christian who is wholeheartedly out and out for God will lay aside because they are “weights” that would hinder his own spiritual progress. To be temperate requires the Christian to recognize his need and to purpose, with God’s grace, to follow through and achieve that goal. In Luke 21:34, the word overcharged means literally, “to be made heavy,” as is generally the case with those who eat or drink too much. Jesus was warning His hearers to take heed that they not be rendered ineffective by an improper use of lawful things. They were not to let the mundane things of this life crowd in to the point that they would neglect to attend to their spiritual trust.
In James 1:26, the phrase, “bridleth not his tongue,” refers to one who does not speak according to the Word of God. Whatever pretenses he makes to religion, he only shows by his lack of spiritual knowledge that his religion is false, empty of solid truth, no profit to others, nor good for himself. Such a person should bridle his tongue.
Adam Clarke defines temperance as, “the proper and limited use of all earthly enjoyments, keeping every sense under proper restraint.” In reading 2 Peter 1:5-7, we find that this is another aspect of Christian character that God expects us to add to our spiritual life.
- Proverbs 16:32 indicates that one needs to rule his spirit. Explain how you think this verse relates to temperance.
Response: Allow time for your students to discuss their answers. The point should be made that if they effectively rule or control their spirit, they will be exercising self-control. This will include being temperate in how they react to people and circumstances that come their way. Ask your students to give some hypothetical examples of situations that might come up which would test their temperance in this aspect.
- Looking at Luke 21:34, and using a dictionary, briefly define the following:
Response: Obtain definitions from your students. They should bring out these meanings:
Overcharged — to load too heavily, burden
Surfeiting — overindulgence, excess
Drunkenness — being intoxicated
In view of these definitions, discuss the meaning of the verse. Bring out that this is not giving license to do in moderation things that are sinful.
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Because of lack of temperance or lack of moderation, there are many things that could be done to defile the temple of God. For example, one may eat too much, or too little. Give other examples showing how the temple of God can be abused by extremes.
Response: Allow time for students to cite specific examples, and discuss how each can be harmful to the body. If insufficient responses are given, some examples might be: recreational activities, choice of reading material and amount of time spent at it, bodily exercise to extreme, job involvement, school activities. Overdoing in any of these areas could wear you down physically.
- Temperance for Christians involves moderation, not in sinful habits or wrongdoing, but in things that are lawful. Suggest how temperance could be exercised in the following areas:
Use of time
Control of appetites
Use of money
Response: Discuss the three points with your class. Have your students evaluate each one as to the possible consequences of a lack of temperance.
- Temperance, or self-control, is discipline. Explain what you think Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 9:27.
Response: Your students should conclude that when Paul speaks of bringing his body into subjection, he is speaking of exercising temperance or self-control. What is the end result of not exercising this control? Help the group see how being intemperate could lead to loss of salvation.
- How do you “bridle” your tongue (James 3:2)? Controlling the tongue is more than eliminating the obvious sins of the tongue, such as lying or swearing. In what ways should a Christian be watchful or exercise control over his tongue? See Proverbs 10:19.
Response: Allow several minutes for your students’ responses. In your discussion, touch on the importance of refraining from talking too much (Proverbs 10:19), tale bearing (Proverbs 11:13), gossiping (Proverbs 16:28), foolish jesting (Ephesians 5:4). As a wrap-up to this question, direct your students to see that speech is a reflection of the inward man. See Luke 6:45.
- Moderation in all aspects of our daily living will be possible if we can answer these questions in the affirmative. Pose a hypothetical question or situation that might confront one in your peer group, and make an application using the following questions.
Will it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31-32
Can it be done for the Lord? Colossians 3:23-24
Can it be done in Jesus’ name? Colossians 3:17
How will it appear to others? 1 Thessalonians 5:22
Would it hinder another Christian? Romans 14:21
Does it involve the wrong company? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
Does it compromise my testimony? 1 Corinthians 6:12
Is this God’s will for me? James 4:15,17
Am I willing to face it in the Judgment? 2 Corinthians 5:10
Response: These questions do not require specific answers, but should be used to sum up all the aspects of temperance covered in our lesson. Ask one or two of your students to share their examples. Refer back to Luke 21:34, “Take heed to yourselves, lest . . . that day come upon you unawares.” Conclude your study of this subject by bringing out the reasons why we must be temperate: the necessity of being prepared for the Lord’s coming, and our Christian witness to the world. Make sure the students understand the relationship between the lack of temperance in any area and the lack of spiritual growth.
Bring a bag of potato chips, cookies, etc. Define temperance by explaining it is like having control of how many chips, cookies, etc., you eat.
Have a skit showing a person going through a frustrating experience and losing his temper; for example, while looking for his keys when in a hurry to run out the door, he could turn the house upside down in disgust.
Bring a balance or scales to class. Show how even good things can overbalance the scales in one direction or another.
Read James 3:5-6 aloud to your class. Then strike a small match and light a large piece of paper to help you illustrate the damage vain talk and evil speaking can do. (Take care you don’t catch anything else on fire!)