Welcome to part 6 in our series from 2 Peter 1:5-8. I deeply apologize for not posting anything last week – I ended up being gone most of the weekend. Previous entries are HERE.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we’re going to be looking at the virtue of self-control. I find it extremely fitting that it’s right after knowledge.
I just returned from a speech and debate tournament – and these tournaments are interesting things. You work for weeks and weeks, late night after late night, to prepare for them. Gaining all this knowledge. All these skills – which are all put to the test at the culmination of the tournament.
And sometimes God blesses me with successes, and sometimes He wants me to learn from my failures.
The past two tournaments I’ve been at have neither been huge successes nor huge failures for me. I’ve won a couple awards in a few things, but I also haven’t placed as high as I’d like to in other things.
But this is where I’ve found self-control coming in. Learning to control all the knowledge and things I’ve learned – not getting cocky about what I’ve won, and not getting discouraged about what I’ve lost. It takes a ridiculous amount of balance.
The interesting thing about self-control is that word self. Meaning it’s something that you have to work for. I’ve always had my parents around me, helping me to make decisions, guiding me. But as I’m getting older, they’re letting me do more things by myself. And I have to use discretion and care when I do things myself. Because it’s myself.
The number of things we have to use self-control in are absolutely endless – and it’s different for different people. Things like speech & debate tournaments, computer/internet time, eating chocolate, eating anything that’s good, really; reading books, spending time with friends – it can be a myriad of things.
But let’s go back at that word self. It’s something that takes discipline – because you have to do it yourself.
It’s one of those…nasty sort of things you have to discipline yourself to do. Because not very many people know about it – it’s a battle you fight yourself. The choices we make in control of the things Satan tempts us to do are not things that other people typically know about. We don’t yell “look, people! I’m fighting this temptation! And I’m winning – applaud me!”
We’d like to, though, wouldn’t we? We’d like people to know that we’re victorious, that we have self-control and can triumph over things. When we fail – well, we’d rather they not know about that.
But people don’t notice either aspect. It’s something you battle inside yourself – yet, it makes such a huge, huge impact on the way you live the rest of your life.
It may seem as if nobody knows you struggle with control in certain areas. And maybe they don’t need to know. The beautiful thing is that God knows – and the same God who raised Jesus from the dead, who healed the blind man, who created the world – is on your side.
It reminds me a lot of Dark Island – where everyone was tempted in various ways. Nobody could hear what the other one heard, and no one’s battle was quite the same. Yet each of them had choices – to give into what they heard or to stand in self-control against it. And nobody but themselves knew what was going on.
But Aslan was there – in spirit – and gave them strength. And in the same way Christ will give us strength when we cry out to Him.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
I also find it comforting to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with self-control. I give in. But I’m not alone. I mean – sin can be enticing sometimes; and even if it’s not blatantly sin, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You know, the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing?
But this is where we can ask others to keep us accountable. To mentor us. It may be called self-control, but God certainly doesn’t intend for us to live our lives all by ourselves.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
It’s comforting to know that Nothing – absolutely nothing – in this life that comes our way will be more than we can bear. But the thing is – we cannot bear any of it without Christ.
My challenge to you this week is to look at the little things that keep you from Christ.
Romans 6:21 says What fruit did you have then in the things which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
When faced with a challenge – a temptation or something you struggle with – take a step back and look at it. Ask yourself “Will I be ashamed of this later? Will I regret my reaction?” Learning to have self-control is not something that happens over night. It’s tiny – sometimes seemingly unfruitful – steps made in obedience to Christ.
God doesn’t call us to do giant things that the world will praise. He calls us to take small steps of obedience with the little things He’s given right in front of us – to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.