Our scout troop is examining what the Bible would describe as a Godly man, and we’re comparing that to what our scouting ideals suggest an ideal scout should act like. [Note: you don’t have to be Christian to be a scout, but in our troop, our families do share a common faith so we often try to compare how scout ideals and our shared Christian ideals often parallel each other]
In the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus describing the ideal attributes of a man. While he was specifically writing to offer advice and direction on finding men who’d be good candidates to hold pastoral or teaching jobs within the church, Gene Getz, the author of the book “The Measure of a Man”, felt that it was a good list for all men. This evening we are taking a look at what it means to be a man who is “temperate”.
What do you think it means to be “temperate”?
I have three ideas I’d like to pass to you:
1) The word sounds like “temperature” – do you think there’s any similarity? What types of temperatures do we enjoy the most when we’re camping? Do we enjoy the extremes or the middle range? I know I don’t like to be awake at night freezing OR swatting at mosquitoes when it’s over 100 degrees – how about you?
One commentator suggested that being “temperate” is “being balanced in words and actions” or “not given to taking extreme positions”.
Does this mean we shouldn’t be passionate or have a sense of urgency about dealing with people or things? Is this suggesting that we be “luke-warm” in our daily lives – neither hot nor cold? Doesn’t the Bible say that “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” ….(Rev 3:16)
I think in one case, we’re looking at how we react to things – do we get easily upset? In the other case, we’re looking at our passion for getting things done – do we have drive and motivation?
A temperate man may be full of passion for his work, his family, his ministry, but he’s not operating at extremes when reacting to things.
2) In metalworking, there’s a process called “Tempering”. Tempering is a heat treatment technique applied to metals, alloys, and glass to achieve greater toughness by increasing the strength of materials and/or ductility. In simple terms, tempering is performed by a controlled reheating of the work piece to a temperature below its lower melting point. Controlled reheating and working of the metal helps it become stronger and more flexible or durable. You might say that a temperate man is one who has been through a tempering process during his life. Through repeated stressful circumstances he learns how to bend and be flexible in dealing with crisis.
3) Another perspective comes from the book of James, chapter one, verses five thru eight; “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
I’m suggesting that a temperate minded man is passionate and decisive, but his focus is very clearly on God, not the day-to-day background noise of this world. He is someone who trusts God and lives his life with purpose and direction – not wandering aimlessly from left to right unable to keep a focus. He may be seen as a leader by other people because of his focus.
Think about summer camp. We love to go to the shooting ranges whether armed with bow, shotgun or rifle. There are eight to ten targets down range from our shooting position. How can you get a great score if you try to shoot at different targets with each shot? You get scored on your cumulative shots on one target – yours alone and not anyone else’s. You need to be focused on your target and aim carefully. You can’t let yourself be distracted by the noise of the other scouts or their weapons.
In life, a temperate man will focus on his target, aim and shoot with purpose and control.
So how do we develop temperance?
How can a man develop this “temperance” in daily living? After all it’s a little bit more complicated juggling a family, career, school, and responsibilities like home maintenance, car maintenance, grocery shopping, etc. than shooting at a target at summer camp! Yet, that’s part of the process. Learning to deal with the stress is like the metal working comparison – these experiences help us learn control and flexibility. Put another way, they help us maintain an even temperature – not living our lives at the extreme ranges, being tossed about.
We also need to rely on God for our sense of security – it can’t come from temporary things like relationships and jobs or money. All those things can be lost – look at the book of Job. Job lost everything around him that mattered to most people. He kept it together by trusting God and he eventually had everything restored to him plus more.
Why can we rest assured in the constancy of God? He’s made promises to us, He’s given us the Bible to read and research, He’s answered prayer and His word declares His faithfulness to us if we only place our trust in Him: Heb 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” AND 1 Pet 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Does a temperate man ever lose his temper? Can he make mistakes? Does a temperate man sometimes get anxious or nervous or afraid for his circumstances? YES, but his goal is to be more and more consistently calm and focused on God. His true strength over the course of his life comes from his growing faith and reliance on God – this focus enables a temperate man to minimize the swaying in his course and walk a straight line.
How is temperance like the Scout Oath and Law?
1) The Oath asks us to obey the Scout Law – that may take temperance depending on the circumstances surrounding us at that moment in time — keep focus and a “cool head”
2) We’re to be “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight” – that’s discipline in the face of choosing to be lazy or disobedient.
3) A Scout is Loyal – loyalty gets tested and a temperate man will recognize that fact and respond with a cool head — working to rebuild his trust in others who may have let him down, or seeking to repair trust when he has failed his friends.
4) A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful and Reverent – dealing with others in love rather than spite (learning to react in measured and disciplined ways).
5) A Scout is Brave – dealing with stress over and over again takes courage. It would be easier to break and give up than to go through the tempering process, but the reward for sticking with it is worthwhile.