II Peter 1:5-10 says, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
We understand that our faith in Christ is central to our belief system. Christ sacrificed everything, and it takes faith in him to reach heaven. But, what do we do once we have the faith in him? We add to it.
But, what to add to something so awesome as faith in Christ? There are several things that we can, and according to this passage we are to add them in order.
What are these things?
- Virtue – behavior showing high moral standards
- Knowledge – facts, information or skills acquired by a person through experience or education
- Temperance – abstinence or self-restraint
- Patience – the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset
- Godliness – devoutly religious or pious
- Brotherly Kindness – friendly, generous and considerate; showing affection or concern
- Charity – kindness and tolerance in judging others, love of humankind
Virtue is living a morally upright life—one in which rules and regulations are necessary to keeps us right. Knowledge is simply the amassing of information regarding a particular subject, in this case God and His Word. Both of these are to be added to our lives, but what exactly is temperance? The word itself is only used in our Bible three times, once in the verse that we have already read. Let’s look at the other two to see how the word is used. First, in Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance:against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Here temperance is included as part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Note that this is a singular word, fruit, not fruits that we are to add separately. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance are all to be evident in a Spirit-filled believer. Not just a few items from this list or one of them, but all of them at once.
Temperance is defined as moderation of habits, patience or calmness. A Spirit-led Christian is to be calm and moderate at all times. Do we overindulge ourselves? With food? With TV? With technology? This would prove a lack of temperance in our lives. We all have things that we enjoy immensely. I love cartoons. I could watch cartoons all day, but most days I don’t — that is moderation. You can’t do anything important or influential if you are overindulgent in frivolity and fun. But, on the adverse we need to use temperance in our work. If you are a workaholic, you will neglect other important parts of your life.
Temperance needs to be in effect in all areas of our life, at all times. Temperance is to be added to our faith, and evident in our lives at part of the fruit of the Spirit. This is especially hard in our technology connected world. How often do we check our phones each day? According to a recent study the average American checks there phone one hundred and fifty times per day! Do we check our Bible that often throughout any given day? We need a moderation when it comes to the use of modern tech. Smart phones, tablets, and laptops have allowed to work more efficiently than ever before, but moderating our time with them and our usage protects us from failure: moral or spiritual.
The second reference we see is Acts 24:25, “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” This is just a short verse that is part of a long dialogue between Paul and Felix, a judge. Felix was representing the Jews, who accused Paul of heresy, to the head judge. Paul defends himself in the preceding dozen or so verses, and does so well enough that Felix asks Paul to explain his faith in Christ, which Paul does. He reasoned with Felix of righteousness, temperance and judgment. Paul explained to him the perfection of Christ and his sacrifice, the patience in waiting for the second coming, and the judgment of God coming afterwards.
Temperance was so important to Paul that he spoke of it implicitly with Felix when witnessing to him. In order to teach this, Paul must have lived this or Felix would never have “trembled” as the Bible describes.
We are commanded to add temperance to our faith and to our lives. We are to be patient in waiting for Christ’s return, with fellow Christian’s, and with the lost that surround us daily. We are also to moderate our personal habits so as not to be overindulgent in any one area. For fear that it may overtake our love of God, and the all-important work we have to do for Him.
-Tim J. Bish