Friday, August 28

Effective Living: Apply Self-Control

I had a first this week. I let my 15 year old son drive our car through the neighborhood. On the whole he did a very fine job and is very conscientious. A couple of times, however, I had to encourage him to "apply the brakes" ... which he did with the gusto of a kid trying to squish a bug with his foot. The brakes worked! So did the seat belt ... thankfully!

Do you remember what it felt like working the brakes your first time driving? If you've forgotten, try braking with your left foot tomorrow!

As you relive your driving experiences remember that sometimes we need to apply the brakes in our lives as well.

Read:2 Peter 1:3-9
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

If we are to live effectively it is going to take work! It is going to take applying the brakes on our appetites and desires. As we grow in knowledge of the Lord we are expected to apply that knowledge by adding self-control.

Self-control is a strange word for Christians. Really we seek Spirit-control (Gal. 5) but there remains this call to deny self if we are to grow.

If you are honest, this is not easy to do. There are parts of me that want to walk with the Lord and obey Him in all things all the time. BUT there is also a part of me that wars against that (Rom. 7). Which will I choose to satisfy?

Galatians 5 tells me that self-control is a fruit of God's Holy Spirit in my life. In other words, when I am walking closely to my Savior the Holy Spirit will produce self-control in my life. He will make it possible for me to obey the Lord by not obeying my desires.

If I listen to His call to obey Him and apply the brakes on myself (in his power, of course) then I will experience life and power for living (Gal. 6).

One dictionary defines self-control as the "virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites". Just like we thought. The trick is doing it!

If we will apply the brakes in our lives we will continue to grow and move toward knowing the Lord and living effectively. The choice is yours.

This is a place that we can easily short-circuit our spiritual growth and our ability to live effective lives that please the Lord. This an area of conflict. This is an area of confrontation. This is an area of ingrained habits. This is an area that might be stunting your growth and effectiveness in the Lord.

The choice is yours. It really is. If you are frustrated with where you are at with the Lord it might be due to this right here. He might be calling you to deny yourself in some area and you are unwilling. Confess that to the Lord and ask Him to change your heart.

Can you identify 1 area in your life in which you need to apply the brakes? It might be centered around food or lust or gossip or exercise or quiet times or too much time on the tv or anything else. Take that to the Lord in prayer right now. Confess your weakness and ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply the brakes.

Remember to try braking with your LEFT foot a few times today. Let it remind you of the need to apply self-control. Oh, and make sure no one is too close behind you! :)

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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