Archive for October, 2005

Self Control

Posted in Devos on Saturday, October 8, 2005 by drumsalot

Self control is more than just holding yourself to 2 Oreos and having just one glass of wine with dinner. Self control is the safety on each individual aspect of your life. Take the mental picture of each aspect of your life being a gun locked and loaded and ready in all aspects. Individual circumstances dictate whether the gun is pointed at you or at someone else, but no matter what, it will do damage, sometimes devastating, if it’s allowed to go off. We all have hundreds of areas in our lives that are just like this, and it’s up to us not to let them “go off.”

I love guns. I specifically love handguns, and one of my favorite handguns of all is the Glock 21. It is a long barrel .45 used mainly by S.W.A.T. teams and precision target shooting teams. The 21 has a projectile propulsion of 1185 feet per second, so technically, if the world were a vacuum, the projectile would clear a mile in just 4.53 seconds. The 21 has enough gas push behind it’s fired projectile to penetrate 4 inches of pressure treated wood at 10 yards with a full metal jacket round. Obviously, the 21 is an amazing weapon, and as such it deserves and is given 3 specific safeties, 2 internal, and a trigger safety. The 2 internal safeties you have no immediate control of in a shooting situation, but the trigger safety will not allow the hammer to activate unless you apply direct and deliberate pressure on both the trigger and the trigger safety. Glocks are awesome handguns because of this safety system, because you must want to discharge the weapon in order for the trigger to pull.

Why do I say all this? Well… we have 3 distinct safeties when it comes to controlling our lives and bodies, just like a Glock. The two unmodifiable internal safeties are: God and our conscience. God, through His word, His hand, and the still small voice He often whispers into our ears at just the right time. As we all know, our conscience is a little overflow sensor God installed so our inherent Good Vs. Bad filter can try to keep us from being stupid. The “trigger safety” of our lives is the ability we have as humans to stop, think the situation through, and say no, not now, not like this, heck no, or run away when we need to. Some of us are stupid anyway, and ignore all three. I have to admit that probably 50 percent of the time, that’s me…..

I was told recently by an acquaintance that he couldn’t wait a few weeks to ask a girl out because 1) he decided that it felt right, so it must be God’s will, and 2) he is a very impatient person and couldn’t hold on that long to get what he wanted. What he knew and refused to consider through all this is the girl had been engaged, and had broken up with her fiance, but the two of them had remained very close, and she was sending strong signals that reparations were possible. Her ex of course was devastated when my acquaintance used the line “it’s Gods will” to convince the girl that she needed to go out with him. He used a private spiritual matter to get his way by shedding a sour light on her ex and forcing them apart. His actions were almost responsible for a solid Christian guy walking away from God because of the pain they brought in the misused name of God and in a declaration of “God’s will.” They were responsible for the destruction of friendships, huge amounts of pain, and the destruction of a quickly growing and very effective ministry, all because of a lack of patience and self control.

Allow me a moment for a quick clarification. Please don’t take me wrong, I fully believe in God sharing his will with us, and using his hand to guide us from point to point. I also believe however, that you must test what you feel to be God’s will and be 100 percent sure that it is truly God’s will well before acting on it. A happy fuzzy feeling is rarely God’s will. It’s up to us to discern what God’s will truly is, and learn to get past what are actually the desires that we all have towards someone or something that often feels too good to be true and clouds our vision. Ephesians 5:17 says: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” I personally feel it is foolishness to say that because you thought and prayed for a little while and didn’t hear a blatant “no” that your wants must be in line with God’s will. It is absolutely necessary to have confirmation from God before pressing on in His name, claiming that what you are doing is His will. God’s will isn’t going anywhere, so take your time and test the feeling with scripture, prayer, and patience. If it is Gods will, it will be waiting for you at the other end, if it isn’t God’s will, suck it up and move on and find out what His true will is. Another way to know if what you are doing truly is God’s will is to seek the heart of those around you. Pray for discernment for them, and honesty from them, and those who are involved that have a relationship with Him will know, whether they like it or not. But I digress.

I have had and am still fighting through some hard issues with self control myself. I enjoy speeding, even though I know it’s against the law. I like spending money and often will find myself spending on things I don’t need, whether I can afford it or not. I like eating junk that is really not doing me any good at all. In high school I had huge self control issues with alcohol, drugs, and sexual temptation. I used to have a bad temper when I’d been pushed too far. There are aspects of my life that I’ve fought for years, and still have to fight like nuts to totally control, and there are areas that are so easy to control that I don’t even realize that they still are a potential stumbling block most of the time. Having self control means having the guts to stop yourself and make sure of the activity, the possible outcomes and the long and short term consequences before letting yourself do the activity, then after all is said and done, making sure God would smile on every aspect of the activity, especially your thought life and the things that no one sees and no one is directly affected by.

David, whom God himself announced as a man after His own heart, couldn’t control himself once, and wound up making a mistake that haunted his whole life. 2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David and Bathsheba. The nutshell story is basically, David was taking a walk on the balcony of one of his palaces one evening, and happened to gaze upon Bathsheba bathing on the roof of her house. David immediately wanted her for himself, and her husband was off fighting with the army of Israel, so he had his people bring her over, and slept with her. He then sent her home, and not too long after that she sent him a message saying she was pregnant. David immediately sent for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who was an honorable man and one of David’s finest soldiers. David tried to get him to go home and be with his wife to cover up the illegitimate pregnancy, but Uriah wouldn’t go home because his men were still fighting and sleeping on the dirt and longing for their wives and Uriah, being honorable and caring for his men, wouldn’t let himself be better off than they were. so David had him sent to the front lines where the fiercest fighting was, and ordered that the army withdraw quickly, stranding him to die quickly. David then took Bathsheba as his wife after her time of mourning had passed. The hardest verse to swallow is the last, where it says “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

David could have prevented this whole thing by using just a tiny amount of self control. He should have controlled his eyes and looked away from Bathsheba when she was bathing. He should have forced the adulterous thoughts from his mind and never asked for her to be brought to him. He should have faced up to what he did rather than kill an innocent man to hide his rampant indiscretions. A small amount of self control at the beginning of it all would have prevented multiple sins that had massive effects on those around him. Self control in that moment would have kept Uriah and an unknown number of soldiers with him alive. It would have kept David and Bathsheba pure, and it would have prevented the consequences David suffered later. Most of all, it would have saved God the heartache of seeing “the man after God’s own heart” go directly against God’s heart in so many aspects.

Not too long ago a young friend of mine, who is a strong Christian, fell to temptation and got knocked out drunk a few times. She shrugged it off as “finding out who I really am.” Self control and self discovery are often butting heads. Personally, I feel that getting drunk multiple times in potentially compromising situations while still underage is stupidity, and has absolutely nothing to do with self discovery. God has given us means to self discovery without necessitating a loss of self control or straying from His will. God wants us to stay pure in every aspect, so our lives can be as blameless as possible and our witness and ministry can thrive through our example. Any time the words “I couldn’t help myself”, “I wanted to discover who I truly am”, “We went overboard”, “It felt like the right thing to do”, “We got caught up in (fill in the situation)” and many more are uttered, chances are it’s all because of a lack of self control. Unfortunately, usually the lack of self control is hand in hand with a lack of faith in God, and a lack of willingness to ask for His strength and seek his leading situation to situation. God’s will and leading will never stray from scripture, so no matter how right it felt to get drunk, sleep with someone outside of marriage, cheat, lie, etc, it is not condoned by God. It is a lack of self control. And each time you fall, one or more of those guns in your life is going off, probably right in your face.

Self control is incredibly hard to practice in every aspect of day to day life, but it is exactly what God calls for. Romans 7:25b says: “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” 6:19b says: “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” I take that to mean that we have the responsibility to exert the necessary self control to make the law of sin, our impurity and wickedness a part of our past by constantly and consistently striving towards righteousness. That takes a load of self control, especially when the very nature of man is sinful, we are all under attack by our minds and the crazy and sinful world around us. We have to learn to put on the armor and fight the urges that our nature and the world throw at us. God wants nothing more for our lives than the fullness of joy through holiness, and holiness is unattainable until the old self is gone, and we can keep it gone. It takes a ton of self control for me not to let myself get sucked back into the junk of my past. I could probably fall easily back into drugs, alcohol, and sexual temptation if I didn’t constantly check myself and constantly build and use more and more self control. We all have these mini wars within us, that we win or lose minute to minute depending on how strong we are second to second. And God is gracious, and will help us with controlling these battles. We all have to learn self control to truly win these wars, and we need to learn to kill those parts of our lives that impede our striving for holiness, the parts we fight with every second of every day. It’s amazingly hard, and we all fail more than we succeed, but God knows this, and that’s exactly why he invented Grace.