Home > Uncategorized > The fight for Self-Control

The fight for Self-Control

Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one.  – Benjamin Franklin

Sometimes devotional thoughts are more like musings than articles. I hope you will read the following as my musing on Titus 1-2, not a final draft.

Paul’s letter to Titus has done a number on me lately. Paul makes a point to give Titus a set of character qualities that together paint a picture of what the life of an ‘elder’ of the church should look like. The most repeated descriptor of what the elder, and as he models it, what the people of God SHOULD look like is…’self-controlled.’

My first reaction was ‘really?’ It’s not even in the 10 commandments. how about…’lover of God’ or ‘not a murderer’ or ‘husband of one wife?’ All of those seem more important than the occasional ‘letting loose.’

But then I started looking at my relationships. The Holy Spirit has a frustrating way of recalling the word of God to mind right after you disobey it doesn’t he? Almost like an out of body experience i watched myself yell at my kids. I recalled punching a hole in one of our walls (low moment) after an argument with courtney. Then I started realizing it’s not just anger Paul is confronting nor is he confronting all anger. It is the untempered indulgence to our passions that Paul is confronting. My propensity to laziness, my readiness to lie to make myself look good.

I began to connect what Paul was talking about when he called self-control a ‘fruit’ of the Spirit. For the Christian to be self-controlled is to be Spirit-controlled. It is to be so submitted to the Spirit of God that his reaction to a situation comes out of you instead of yours. This is what makes the ‘Serenity-Now!’ self-help tricks so impotent. Lesson learned: I cannot conjure self-control in the moment. Sure I might discipline myself to never SHOUT, but my desire to satisfy my urges is going to find another outlet like laziness or short-cutting or gluttony.

How can I have self-control like Paul calls for without completely detaching from my emotions? What great news that God is an incredibly passionate God. God is not a vulcan (had to!). He made us in his image after-all. We are not to detach from our emotions, we are to submit them to a new and better master.

I’m thinking of it like the way I play Mario-Cart with my kids. When they drive, they almost always finish last. But when they sit with me and I hold the wheel with them, they always win. That is, they win if they let dad guide the wheel. When they fight dad’s leading is when they lose ground in the race. So yes, it turns out Carrie Underwood had the right prayer in her lyrics after all. I walked into that one

The fight for self-control tonight with my kids, began this morning in my time with God. It continues today in my work-ethic. The fight for self-control is won or lost in my submission to the Holy Spirit today.

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