"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." ~ I Thessalonians 5:8
Temperance is restraint in the face of temptation. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23 KJV). The root word "temper" originally meant "mixture" in Latin. As Christians, we are an amalgam of body, soul and spirit. And it is God in us who gives us harmony, who guides us and enables us to live temperate lives. To Him, we must yield.
If we look at the Old Testament, unleavened cakes and wafers were "tempered with oil" and "anointed with oil" (Ex. 29:2). In these simple passages lives so much meaning. Just as the wheat and the oil were combined to complete a substance that would sustain life, the bread of life (Jesus) and the anointing oil (the Holy Spirit) sustains us in times of trouble, in the dry desert journeys, in the face of the tempter, Satan.
Although God is always in control, He allows us to journey through difficult circumstances to temper us, to cause us to reach for Him and depend upon Him with a great urgency and intensity for help. God's firing or tempering process prepares us for the next promotion. It challenges us to reach the next glory and obtain a higher level of purity and holiness (Ex. 30:35-37). Yielding to the Holy Spirit brings us into greater composure, which positions us for action (I Peter 1:13) in an upcoming season.
I recall an occasion when a friend of mind received a major breakthrough in her career. She had been under the authority of a boss from whom she felt great heaviness and oppression on a daily basis. Yes, she was being tempered. I watched her at church each week as she journeyed through this dry place. I saw tears of desperation fall from her cheeks. I saw her heart cry out to God for relief. And I saw her offer sacrifices of praise to the Lord while in the midst of emotional pressure and pain.
Many interceded for her, including myself. And on the day that she was offered a new job, which was unbeknownst to me at the time, the Lord showed me that because she sought His heart with all of her heart, and because she was faithful to stay the course and exhibit love in the process, He shielded her from undue harm and was promoting her to be in authority over others.
Inasmuch, God recently sent me back out into the job market. After seven weeks of intense training, during which I had to lean into the Lord for His grace, my boss turned to me and quickly said, "You're going to be mastered by fire." I knew just what she meant.
Consider Proverbs 25:28 (NIV): "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." My friend, in her flesh alone, surely felt like retaliating towards her boss. And without the Holy Spirit's strength and guidance, she would have been defenseless and disgraced, like a city without walls. But because she persevered by leaning to God, she finished the journey rewarded by promotion and surrounded by His glory.
Proverbs 16:32 (NLT) says, "It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city." My friend chose to be patient in the suffering. She believed that God's power was more than enough to defeat the enemy who attacked her. And she waited upon God until He brought her to complete victory. Such character development readied her to carry out her next divine assignment.
If you are being tempered, know that the process will not continue longer than God apportions. Take courage and know that He is fighting your battles for you and that you will reign victorious if you persevere to the finish.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.
Originally published Sunday, 17 March 2019.