Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Today’s Topic: Self-Control
Today’s Text: 2 Peter 1:6 …and to knowledge, [add] self-control;
The desire to please self is as old as Adam and Eve. It started in the Garden of Eden when Eve was convinced by Satan that God was holding out on her and that she needed to do something for herself. Adam joined her in the pursuit of self-satisfaction, and ever since there is as insatiable desire in each of us from birth to take care of our own needs and desires ahead of anything or anyone else.
When Adam and Eve first sinned, the entire focus of their intellect, emotions and will was shifted from being centered on God to being centered on self. That’s why they felt shame and tried to cover their nakedness. They had instantly brought upon themselves and the whole human race an awkward awareness of inadequacy which produced insecurity and embarrassment. From that point on, mankind’s desire has been for approval and acceptance, and we are convinced that it is most easily fulfilled in the pursuit of self-gratification.
It is fascinating to watch what happens in the life of a teenager when they start to take a healthy interest in someone of the opposite gender. There are generally two possible scenarios.
- They lose all self-control, and do anything and everything they can to gratify their hormonally charged emotions. Everything is about how the other person makes them feel. Very little is ever said about how they are learning respect and sacrifice for the sake of the other person. Rarely do you hear them talk about the relationship unless in the context of the benefits it brings to themselves. It is this response that the world calls love, but love it is not.
- They gain self-control, and do everything they can to earn the respect of the other person by putting their needs and desires ahead of their own. They seek to spend time getting to really know the other person, and they use that knowledge to figure out ways of meeting that person’s needs. They willingly sacrifice their own desires for the sake of doing what’s best for the other person. They never take from the other person what is not rightfully theirs simply to satisfy their own equally hormonally charged emotions. They are learning what love really is.
I read in Godly fear the posts of teenagers who are my Facebook friends. The consistent shallow and self-centered expressions of what they think is love as they talk about their special friends lead me to believe that we have apathetically allowed far too much knowledge of the world’s ways into the minds of our youth. The result is the loss of self-control. The world denies the need for self-control. In fact, the world stands opposed to it in almost every form. Only the laws against such things as murder, rape, and theft stand between what we are as a culture today and absolute anarchy. And yet we continue to pump the knowledge of the world and its ways into our minds and the minds of our youth.
There is an option. The knowledge of God brings self-control. The more I know about the One who loves me unconditionally and gave His life for me, the more I will have both the desire and the power to control the impulses of the flesh and live in the purity of Christ-likeness. The same is true in our relationships with each other. The more we know about the person we claim to love, the more we desire to do what pleases them and meet their true needs. The deeper our understanding of their heart, their feelings, their emotions, and their dreams, the more we will sacrifice of ourselves for their sake. Now we are talking about love.
So let’s make this real personal right now. Every one of us struggles with some area of self-control. There’s some physical expression of self in your life that you think is uncontrollable. You may even justify it as a natural response to an emotion or circumstance. You know what it is right now. You may or may not want to ever get rid of it. But if you do there is only one way. It must be brought under the power of the Holy Spirit through the increasing knowledge of God.
I will make a bold yet accurate statement – not to offend you but to get you to face the truth. The lack of self-control is the direct result of your choice to not know God more intimately. When we choose to not seek to know God more every day, we will not be able to improve our self-control. Why would we want to? We are choosing to live under the direction of self. We do not choose to control what we have granted control. Every day that we choose not to study God’s word and spend time in prayer with Him, we choose to let self be in control rather than God. Every day that we justify not having a quiet time with God because of our busy schedules and the demands of work or family, we choose to let self be in control. But every day that we seek the Lord and His strength, and spend face to face time with Him getting to know Him, we are able to conquer the need to satisfy self and to serve the One we love.
My friends, the days are getting short. The night is approaching. Jesus is coming soon. It is urgent that we conquer the need to satisfy self and that we serve the Savior. We can do it, if we will pursue the knowledge of God with our whole hearts.