My husband and I just got home from a cruise to Alaska. The 7-day journey celebrating our 25th anniversary began in Seattle, Washington. There are many things for which Seattle is famous (Starbucks anyone?). Some of the most iconic and photographed landmarks are the Space Needle and the Seattle Great Wheel.
No doubt, Seattle is a picturesque city with a beautiful skyline. However, in more recent times, the once great city of Seattle has become plagued with all sorts of societal problems; it has become known as a city impoverished by crime and lawlessness.
Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected] is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].Proverbs 25:28 Amplified Version
Walls are a means of establishing boundaries for safety’s sake. When a city has walls that are broken down, the city is vulnerable to attack. In His kindness, God has erected walls, so to speak, in His word which teaches us how to live a sober-minded and righteous life. God has commanded people to walk in self-control and joyfully live within the boundaries He has established, for our good and His glory!
However, it seems lack of self-control (ie…no restraint over one’s actions and feelings) is a very common problem in our day and age. As a culture, we are increasingly encouraged to live outside of boundaries set by God, parents, government, and any other authority. We can easily act before thinking, making rash decisions or statements, which greatly impact our future or the lives of others. With the advent of the credit card and the cell phone, it seems as though the skill of living a thoughtful and careful life has gone out the window.
Victoria, BC Parliament Building
I don’t believe our generation is uniquely different than times past. We may be able to act out our impulses at a faster rate, but there is no temptation to sin which is not common to all mankind. Christians, however, are to called to live differently. We have all things needed to live the godly life to which we are called. That is why the Apostle Peter said,
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”2 Peter 1:5-7
Why does my display of self-control matter specifically? Since I am a child of God, who never behaves rashly or out of control, my hope and goal in this life is to show the lost and dying world around me what He is like. By the help of the Spirit, I want to emulate my Father.
So, what might it look like to live a life of faith supplemented with self-control? Here are a few areas which came to mind as I asked the Lord for wisdom as to how I could grow in this area. If you are willing to ask, I’m sure the Spirit will reveal your list of areas to grow in self-control.
- Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to respond in order to represent my God (and myself!) rightly
- Spend less time checking email, texts, and the news. Spend more time in the word and prayer in order to know the mind of God on any given subject
- Truly evaluate if a purchase is a need or a want in order to be a good steward of the resources God has given me.
As I write this short list, it seems as though it should be simple to live out. This list is not burdensome but rather beneficial. If lived out in the power of the Spirit, I will be actively rebuilding walls in my life which may have become fractured by living in a sin filled world; fractures which leave me vulnerable to spiritual and physical attack.
As with all the fruit of the Spirit (which I have spent the last 8 months covering in this blog), it always comes down to abiding in Christ and being trained by His grace. The same power which raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me. By His Spirit, I can indeed walk in victory over my impulses and live a life characterized by self-control, for my good and God’s glory!