Temperance is a big word. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint; habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions; or as moderation in or abstinence from the use of intoxicating drinks. There is a marked difference between moderation and abstinence. So is there a single definition that incorporates the essence of both of them?
I believe so, and it is found in the Bible and is called the honey principle. “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste.” Proverbs 24:13. We are to eat, drink and do only those things which are good and abstain from that which is harmful. The second definition is found in Proverbs 25:16, 27: “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it” and “it is not good to eat much honey.” Therefore, even though honey is good it is to be taken in quantities that are sufficient so that it does not become bad for us and cause us to be sick. Ellen G. White made a similar, very succinct statement when she said, “True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562.
If we believe that we need to abstain from everything hurtful, and use/do in moderation that which is good, then we must apply this principle to all areas of our life—our physical, social, intellectual and spiritual being. We need to reach a moderate balance of those things that are good and avoid like the plague those things that are hurtful in any way.
Where did we get the idea that it was okay to partake of that which was hurtful, or not in our best interest? It began, as did all other lies, with Satan: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” Genesis 3:1–4. We have to decide if we are going to believe the devil—that we can eat and do what we want—be temperate in all things (Philippians 4:5; I Corinthians 10:31).
During our December 2009 stay in Kenya, John Mwangi, our chauffeur, made a fresh cabbage salad almost daily for Sandra and me. We loved it and wanted to share with you a list of ingredients from which this recipe was created. Enjoy!