Galatians 5:23, “Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Here in the letter to the church of Galatia, Paul is rounding out his presentation on the place of the holy spirit as the unparalleled influencer among the people of God. The last trait enumerated is temperance, which we can also appropriately call “composure” or “self-control.” Part of getting in line with the spirit (Galatians 5:25) is this aspect of exerting power over our own will and desires. Yes, for all those out there who may not like this part, self-control and self-discipline does play a role in walking by the spirit and “being spiritual.” There is a very real temptation among those who are endeavoring to walk by the spirit, to be inspired and spontaneous with God, to excuse self-discipline and to even be repulsed by planning or scheduling. These two very different approaches are to be held in balance with one another. The spontaneous and the scheduled are both active as we are living in and getting in line with the spirit of God.
The early church historian Philo used this same word translated “temperance” as the superiority over desires of food, sex and the use of the tongue. A form of this word appears in the Greek Old Testament in Genesis 43:31. In taking the time to read the context of Genesis 43, it will become apparent how important this self-restraint is as we position ourselves to accomplish God’s will. Other thoughts on the importance of composure and self-restraint can be found in the Garden of Gethsemane, Daniel and the lions’ den and the writing of James. Key verses that can be read and studied on the Garden of Gethsemane are Matthew 26:36-56 with specific emphasis on verse 42. The Daniel and the lions’ den incident can be examined in Daniel chapter 6 with an additional focus on verse 23. Lastly, the writings of James with respect to the use of our tongues in James 3:3-12 should be noted. This week, take the time to look at these records and investigate the temperance that flows with and from the holy spirit within you. Self-restraint plays a major role in lining up with the spirit of God.