Use of powerIt is easy to see how modern language and media has painted such a twisted picture of something that is a virtue! Think of temperance. Some may paint a black and white picture in their minds of old matrons from the 1920’s holding up anti-drinking signs and petitioning for the prohibition of alcohol. While this definition and image are correct, temperance has a much deeper meaning. The original idea of temperance was that of self-restraint. Once again, just because we are capable of doing something does not mean that we should.
There are times when such behavior could hurt the Christian testimony or hurt a fellow believer in the faith. Here are a few examples:
- 1 Cor 6:12: “all things are lawful for me but all things are not expedient…”
- Galatians 5:13: “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
- 1 Corinthians 8:9 on meat offered to idols the idea being liberty in Christ and the potential to wound those with tender consciences who are still superstitious or ignorant of these facts
- Romans 14 on sins of conscience “. . . that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.“
- Temperance: I Corinthians 9:25 “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”
|the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword|
Athletes do not become strong, vital or win their respective competitions without sacrifices. The great athletes have a heavy training regimen. How often do we see the ads for pills, machines and other shape-up and weight loss programs that promise a body like the cover models of the fitness magazines possess, but with no work on our behalf? The only reason I’m 45 and still in good shape is because of a four-letter word: W-O-R-K! (and yes, God has been good to me over the years as well)
Let us consider the power issue. Just because I am able to kick or punch someone doesn’t mean I should. And just because a person is correct, or more intelligent than another doesn’t mean we should call to their attention the person’s faulty thinking.
One of my respondents to the last post made a very good observation and question on temperance:
“Where would a martial artist, or regular Christian, draw the line between Godly restraint and humility and righteous use of power? Is there a line at all?”
In the case of walking down the street to the store or in a parking lot at the mall, if an assailant attacks, he does not know if I am a Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist. That person does not care. Most state laws reflect the idea that the victim has a duty to retreat before they can attack, and then only use a reasonable amount of force to stop the attack. In a home an intruder still does not know your religious and political beliefs, but the law changes slightly. Missouri and other states have a law dubbed “The castle doctrine” which roughly states that if the owner has a reasonable belief that his/her life was in danger they may use deadly force to stop the attacker. I do not relish the idea of hurting or taking a human life, but we must acknowledge the wisdom of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 that there is “every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” In the street, if attacked, I have been taught to inflict the blows that are necessary to get the person off of me or down (on the ground), but not to go over what is necessary. A continued beating can be construed as assault, therefore getting me on the wrong side of the law! The ability to have restraint in techniques is something that the martial artist should strive for, but isn’t that the same with a Christian as well? Even the Chinese general Sun Tzu stated that to win a fight without fighting was the greater achievement. When dealing with a difficult spiritual problem that may become an argument we can draw some parallels, but I will do this in the next post.