Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
1 Timothy 3:1-3 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Consider: The second ‘deadly’ sin is gluttony. We don’t need to spend too much time on the negative aspect of gluttony as it is probably obvious to us how this manifests itself in a person’s life. It is sufficient to say that it is not just over-eating that is envisaged, but over-indulging in food or drink. This is the second aspect of sin (together with lust) that impinges on how we regard and use our own bodies as Christians.
The positive virtue that corresponds to gluttony and which should be a characteristic of a Christlike life is ‘temperance’. This is a word that isn’t heard very often today, yet it was probably a watchword of many denominations in the fight against abuse of alcohol. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, temperance became synonymous with abstinence, yet this is not what is envisaged by the Bible.
The Greek word translated as ‘temperate’ carries with it the possible meanings of ‘sober-minded’, ‘self-controlled’ and ‘self-restrained’. Unfortunately ‘sober-minded’ can give the impression of someone who is a killjoy, yet that is not what is meant here. What is intended is someone who is clear-headed, in their right mind, understanding in their thinking. Self-controlled and self-restrained as attributes are easier for us to understand.
Returning to the passage from 1 Timothy 3 it contains details of the characteristics desirable in three groups of people. These are overseers (or elders), deacons and women. Notice how the chapter starts – ‘… whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task’. The expectation is that these characteristics should be apparent in the life of the individual chosen to be an overseer.
We must also recognise that some characteristics of a Christlike life will take a lifetime to develop and we will never be able to say we’ve arrived in terms of having them fully developed. An example will suffice. In the case of ‘humility’, if we ever think that we have fully developed this virtue, it would be evidence that we have not. Future posts will consider these other virtues [i.e. charity (generosity), diligence (conscientiousness), patience, contentment and humility].
As with all indulgences we have to know when to stop. Some people don’t know when to stop and this can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, perhaps leading to obesity or alcoholism. Moderation in all things should be our goal. I’ll leave you with Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 6:12 –
‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.
So enjoy what God has provided, but don’t let anything gain mastery over you.
Pray: Father, thank you for what you provide for us. Help us to be self-controlled in enjoying your bounty. Protect us from anything that might gain mastery over us. Amen
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