Recently, The Atlanta Journal Constitution website ran: “Vacuum cleaner used as a weapon in DeKalb road rage, cops say.” (www.ajc.com, April 24, 2017).
Chamblee police said a 24-year-old woman used a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner as a weapon against a driver who approached her car and banged on the window. As he fumed about her erratic driving, she got the vacuum from the trunk, hit his SUV, and then hit him.
Keeping self-control is challenging sometimes, isn’t it? Yet, Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 writes that it is evidence of the Spirit-controlled life. He writes that we are either living in the flesh or we are living in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control.
The word translated self-control means staying within safe, reasonable bounds and avoiding excesses as God helps us govern our life.
Self-control is God-empowered restraint (see Psalm 119:101), but also God-driven desire and discipline to do what is right.
Jerry Bridges explained, “For example, I seldom want to study the Bible when I first begin a study. There are too many other things that are mentally much easier to do, such as reading a newspaper, a magazine, or a good Christian book. A necessary expression of self-control, then, is to set myself down at the dining room table with Bible and notebook in hand” and get with it!
Proverbs 25:28 reads, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”
In biblical times, a city whose walls are broken down has no defense against an enemy. And the person who has no discipline, willpower, or self-restraint (rule) has no defense against anger, lust, impatience, or other unchecked emotions. Without self-control, we are wide-open to sin.
Where do we struggle? Let’s ask:
Does my speech need self-control? Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” With our tongue, we have the power to build people up or to tear people down. We have the privilege of speaking a word that points people to the Lord or using speech that causes unbelievers to stumble.
Does my appetite need self-control? Someone said, “I don’t need a personal trainer as much as I need someone to follow me around and slap food out of my hand.” One writer shared that every day in America, we eat 75 acres of pizza, 53 million hot dogs, 167 million eggs, 3 million gallons of ice cream, and 3000 tons of candy … and 2.7 million Dunkin’ Donuts! (James Merritt, 9 Keys to Successful Leadership, 132-133). Do we over indulge?
Does my spending need self-control? Marketers have conditioned us to pursue instant gratification, so we go into debt instead of saving and paying cash. We buy now, but pay heavy interest. We hand-cuff our personal finances, then fail to tithe because our cash flow is so tight. Someone said debt stands for “Doing Everything But Tithing.”
Do our emotions need self-control? We mentioned road rage, but what about the ball fields? Have you ever gotten too carried away while watching your child play ball? I have.
A Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation reported that more than once a month in south Florida, a parent of an athlete punches another parent, storms a playing field, or spits on a referee.
A soccer father decks a soccer mom after an under-11 game in Plantation; a basketball mom punches an assistant coach after a middle school game in Riviera Beach; a tennis dad slugs another father during a youth match in Cooper City.
Soccer referee Lou Hecht of Delray Beach said, “I’ve been refereeing for 25 years down here and it’s gotten progressively rough. Parents think it’s the World Cup, World Series, and Super Bowl all rolled into one ….”
Do our eyes and thoughts need self-control? Do we control where our thought life takes us? What about where our eyes land? We can’t help where our eyes land sometimes, but we can control how long they stay there, can’t we?
Self-control is the difference between victorious living and defeated living, between standing firm against temptation and giving in to temptation, between keeping our witness and possibly losing our witness. Are our walls needing repair, or are they standing strong?