Sometimes I wonder if God wants us to stop praying about our “struggles” and just do what He’s telling us to do and quit doing what He’s told us to stop doing.
After having a heart to heart conversation with a precious young woman who’s been devastated by the actions of a male peer, it occurred to me that contemporary Christian circles seem to be missing out on an important attribute God’s Spirit has freely given. We find it easy to discuss spiritual fruit, such as joy and peace, gentleness and love, but when it comes to self-control the tendency is to mute that conversation. And clearly, it’s having its effects on the culture.
People are running amok filling their baser selves with the stuff of this world. But Christians seem no different in many aspects. Hear me out before you go to the “all things are permissible” verse. Believe me, I know it well and have argued it (even my email address is “undergrace”)! Remember, though, that the passage continues…“not all things are beneficial” and “I will not be mastered by anything.” Paul goes on in this 1 Corinthians 6 passage to mention specifically issues with food and with sexuality.
How appropriate to talk about this for our church and our world! These 2 good things can quickly become bad things if we don’t allow the Spirit to move our cravings aside so He can help us in our time of need.
All Spiritual fruit is grounded in the security of the love of God, so when we let Him in the areas we just plain don’t want to give over to Him, we then feel His peace and joy return. And THAT is so much better than letting these things be “master” over you.
This fruit of self-control is EXACTLY what it sounds like. We stop, listen to His Spirit concerning a sinful behavior, then practice this art of self-control. We were never meant to be robots waiting for the Spirit to completely take over our mind, decisions, and actions. We actually have a say in our behavior and we do not have to be subject to what we lust after.
The Word of God is full of words that give us our identity and we’ll certainly be victorious over our struggles when we steep in the awareness of His loving kindness. Yet He waits for us to decide in each and every situation we’re placed in. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves a few questions such as:
Is this God’s best for me?
Will I hurt another with the choice I’m about to make?
Why do I need this thing I’m doing and is it replacing a better gift my Father has for me?
Is my Christian freedom being used to stumble a brother or sister?
Self control is not about picking yourself up by your bootstraps, forcing yourself to do the right thing. It’s more about internalizing God’s heart for your life and allowing Him to lead and guide all your decisions…using your brain to inform your actions. It’s loving God with your whole mind and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Unfettered sexual promiscuity, alcohol abuse, trashy language, overeating, gossip, and a whole plethora of behaviors we sometimes conveniently dismiss because we’re under grace would no longer chain us down if we were to practice temperance.
So let’s talk about it. Let’s not allow this excessive culture be the standard of how well we’re doing. Let’s sink our thoughts into God’s thoughts, getting rooted and grounded in what He is actually saying to us, the Church. Let’s stop being so stinking scared to offend one another and learn to receive and speak truth in a loving way. Our security is found in Christ. So let’s stop passing the buck and take personal responsibility for our actions.
The fruit of the Spirit is alive and healthy and our responsibility is to nurture the vine for every fruit He creates in us.
Let’s not let this one rot.