Cardinal Virtues: Temperance

Temperance refers to all pleasures, and it means not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.  

-CS Lewis

Businessmen On Their Way To Work

Temperance from the latin temperare meaning restrain or temperantia, moderation. A most useful weapon against the deceiver in times of sorrow. C.S. Lewis suggests in his famous Screwtape Letters that devils deploy indulgence as a strategy when we are down. In the letters Screwtape writes to his demon understudy Wormwood and explains that they need be careful when dealing with indulgences. Pleasures he continues were in fact created by God and so when trying to distort them they are in fact on enemy territory. Screwtape goes on to say, “Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is the least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”

Temperance is enjoying pleasure within the bound set by God. Not going where God has forbid us to go. It is, of course, best this way. That first piece of cake is always the best and so on. God created good things for us to enjoy and I have come to believe that when we enjoy them properly it brings glory to our Creator. Going too far or a full degree off the intended, perverting the pleasure, is where the deceiver would like us. Focusing on true and false will rescue us. God sends His Word to heal.

C.S Lewis closes a short stop on temperance in Mere Christianity by holding that one of the deceivers worst victories with temperance is its modern restriction to drink. C.S. Lewis notes that the man who makes golf or work the center of his life or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to her appearance or children can be just as intemperate as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, these do not show so easily. They do not leave you slurring your words or stumbling in the street. But God is not deceived by externals.

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Comparison and Jealousy

When you have drunk of it you forget forever all proprietorship in your own works.  You enjoy them just as if they were someone else’s: without pride and without modesty.

C.S. Lewis

Empty Dark Abstract Concrete Room Perspective Interior

Comparison. I am better. A deception at its core. And jealousy. They do not deserve. Both empty indeed.

To compare and say we are this or that as measured against another is an ignorant quest for happiness that we have all fallen to, I am afraid. One day it produces good feelings and the next the most horrible. At its core is a lie that we actually own something. That we or they are responsible for a good. When in truth it is all God.

We are a body. Hands and feet and eyes and ears. One day the hand is called up and it feels more useful than the foot. Tomorrow when the foot is needed — the hand feels less important. When sight is needed should the eyes count themselves better than the ears?  What then if it is dark tomorrow?

The truth is humility. Every useful thing we have is given to us anyways. As is our fellows. If you have a gift of generosity, then give generously in secret and thank God. If another has a gift, the truth is joy. It is most beautiful to see another made useful by God’s goodness.

Jealousy sets in when we do not trust the measure. We think an outcome not fair.  That the judge, the boss, the coach did not have all the information and so the decision was not correct. Unfair.

We are a body. If the head calls up the hand in combat and the foot feels a kick was needed the foot becomes jealous. Jealous and distracted. Less useful in fact. The hand and the foot and the arm and the leg answer to the head.

The truth is justice. Who is just? What is truth? I believe God is. And He will sort the deserved from the empty. We are to follow Him and that is that. He is faithful to follow and we will do well to trust in His judgement.

Comparison with jealousy is an ugly distracted and paralyzed way. How much better to be thankful, enjoy, and trust.

 

-A takeaway from The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.