Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Current Study: 1 Peter
Today’s Topic: Self-Control
Scripture Reading: 1Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert.
I missed writing my devotional yesterday.
Those of you that read these devotions every day that I actually write one probably thought I missed a deer because of what I wrote on Monday. You would also be correct.
I had not been in my stand more than 10 minutes when a nice 8 point buck with the beginnings of points 9 and 10 responded to my doe bleat and buck grunt. He was making a bee-line right for me. I grabbed my bow, and when he stopped broadside at 25 yards I shot. I did not compensate for the severe downhill shot and the arrow slid harmlessly over his back.
As he approached, I was having a hard time controlling myself. My first glance at him across the swale made me shake because his antlers looked bigger than they actually were. The wide spread of them gave me a severe case of the jitters. As he drew closer, I debated whether or not to even attempt to shoot him as I saw the other signs of his age. He was probably only 2½ years old by the look of his face and straightness of his back. But at the last moment I decided to try to put meet in the freezer.
I couldn’t believe how nervous I got. I’ve done this so many times before, but every time I get ready to draw back my bow I have a hard time controlling my emotions. I still don’t have this whole self-control thing conquered. Those of you who know me well already knew that without me telling a deer story.
The Greek word for self-controlled used by Peter here is rich in meaning. There are five characteristics of a self-controlled person that are built into the definition. It is not the same word used in Galatians 5:23 when Paul tells us that one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. That word is much broader, and speaks specifically of the conquering of the passions of life. It’s as if Paul tells us the general principle, and then Peter tells us the specifics. To experience the fullness of this fruit of the Spirit, we must break it down into its individual parts and make sure we are excelling in each of them.
So, here they are, with a short challenge for each. May the Word of the Lord enrich you as you make your own personal applications to life.
- to be sober – specifically, to abstain from coming under the influence of alcohol. In today’s culture, let’s add drugs to that as well. Any mind-altering influence that dulls our senses, eases our pain, or changes our behavior is a sin. Why? Because it proves a lack of faith in the peace-providing presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.
- to be calm and collected in spirit – I was not calm and collected in the tree stand yesterday. I allowed the circumstance of a deer to influence my thinking. If I had been calm and collected, I would have thought clearly about over-compensating for the downward angle of the shot and I would be cleaning a deer today. In the same way we are to be sober from chemical influence, we must also not let the circumstances of life produce anxiety that alters our thinking.
- to be temperate – to be consistently moderate, mild, and pleasant. We all want to know what the temperature is going to be each day so we can adjust to it. How many people are privileged to be able to use you as their spiritual thermometer and adjust their lives to you because you are so consistent, or temperate? A temperate person is not ruled by their emotions.
- to be dispassionate – to be impartial, unbiased, and fair-minded. We far too often jump on bandwagons. We take sides. We passionately take stands that alienate others. We must separate our emotions from our positions so that the love of God is not overwhelmed by our passion.
- to be circumspect – I love this word. It means to live in such a way that you are constantly watching what’s around you and you are alert to any potential danger. In Ephesians 5:15 the King James Version says, See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Fools run around doing whatever they want whenever they want to, totally ignoring the consequences. Wise people are self-controlled, walking through life alert to what might negatively influence them and how their own choices and actions might negatively influence others. More on that tomorrow.
So, be self-controlled. I’m going to specifically apply several of those principles to my life tomorrow when I’ll be back on the tree stand. And again, for those who know me well, that’s not the only place I’ll apply them.