Rage, anger and a lack of civility seems to dominate a segment of our society. Or at least it makes the news!
A Texas mother slapped the mother of a girl on the winning basketball team who beat her daughter’s team.
A Florida baseball coach broke an umpire’s jaw after a disputed call.
A transatlantic flight from Rome to Chicago was recently diverted when a 42-year-old man threw a fit when he couldn’t get any more snacks because the crew ran out of crackers.
A Florida man killed another man in front of his family after a road rage incident.
Our word of the week is “Self-Control.”
Perhaps to a different degree than these extreme examples all of us are challenged with the issue of self-control.
This quality is listed among the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
In Peter’s exhortation to Christian growth self Control is one of the virtues identified. “…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control…. (2 Pet. 1:5-7)
The adjective form of this word is used in Titus 1:8 as one of the qualities for an elder. He must be self-controlled.
The apostle Paul uses the verb form of the word, translated “temperate” in some versions, in comparing the Christian life to the discipline and training exercised by an athlete. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
Self control is “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sexual appetites.” William Barclay writes that self-control “is the ability to take a grip of one’s self.”
Consider 4 ways in which Christians need to exercise self-control.
(1) What we Think.
The wise man wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Thoughts that begin in the mind can soon dominate the soul. They must be brought under the control of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). We can master our minds, by thinking on things that are pure, praise-worthy and honorable (Phil 4:8)
(2) What we see.
“The lust of the eyes” has always been problem for human kind. It began in the garden with Eve and continues today in more sensual forms. Jesus warned in the Mountain Message about the sin of sexual lust. Sexually charged movies and television shows are a challenge to our spirituality, as well as the nemesis of internet pornography. Self-control must be exercised to avoid them at all costs.
(3) What we Say.
The Bible admonishes us, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (Jas 1:19). How often have we wallowed in regret because of a lack of self-control in uttering angry, hurtful, unkind or even profane words?
(4) What we Do.
“Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul,” is a command that demand self-control (1 Pet. 2:11). Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lusts.” What we do is often the culmination of things we’ve been thinking, seeing, and saying.
The Quaker colonist and philosopher William Penn was correct in his observation, “No man is compelled to do evil, only his consent makes it his.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman