In her book Food in Medieval Times, author Melitta Adamson writes of European culinary delights in the Middle Ages. Wild game, pastries, puddings, and other exotic foods illustrate the creative joy taken in food preparation. But with all these wonderful entrées there was a problem—overeating. This tendency was compounded by the Christian calendar, which abounded with fasts and feasts. Abstaining from meals was often followed by gluttony.

To address this problem, theologian Thomas Aquinas uplifted the Christian character quality of temperance, calling it “a special virtue.” He saw how self-restraint should extend to all areas of life.

For the believer, temperance, or moderation, does not derive from sheer human willpower. Instead, it comes from the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Self-control is the Spirit-produced quality that enables us to be “temperate in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Overindulgence in food, rest, work, recreation, ministry, and a variety of “good things” can be corrected only through the balance of self-control. Take a few minutes to ask God to produce that special virtue in you.