Thursday, December 8, 2022
1Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert.”
I ate too much. And I ate the wrong foods. I justified it because it was Thanksgiving, but my lack of self-control got the best of me when I saw the stuffing, potatoes and variety of pies. Self-control is in direct competition with the primary motivation of human life, which is self-gratification.
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.