Posted by: watchman | August 1, 2009

First Timothy 3: Self control

“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled

– Timothy 3:2 (TNIV)

The next set of character traits that Paul lists are “temperate, self controlled.” Temperate is often thought to mean “teetotaling.” In fact, there are some who believe that teetotalism is a consistently taught doctrine throughout scripture.

I’ve written on Christian prohibition in the past (here and here), so I will not comment further on that aspect of the argument. essentially, alcohol prohibition is a foreign concept to scripture.

More even minded sorts look at this verse and comment that complete abstinence is a requirement for overseers. But, that is not what the verse says. The English word “temperance” (which is a pretty good translation), has never meant absolute abstinence.

I think the point that Paul is making here is that a drunk does not make a good leader. Simple.

The exhortation for temperance is coupled with an exhortation that is very similiar. A leader should be “self-controlled.” As with alchol, a leader is supposed to be an example of moderation. The leader should not be a drunk, a glutton, or a wild, extravant spnder of money. A good leader understands delayed gratification and is not ruled by his/her appetites.

This characteristic is especially necessary in a day and age where our apetites need to be filled with an immeadiacy. In order to become counter cultural, we must learn moderation and self-control.


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