Saturday, August 29, 2009

Self-Control Part II

There seem to be two types of self-control: involvement and abstention. That is, there are things that we are to discipline ourselves TO DO. And there are things that we are to discipline ourselves NOT TO DO. Colloquially, it seems common to speak of self-discipline in the positive sense, and self-control in the negative sense. We discipline ourselves to exercise, to prayer, etc. We control ourselves to keep from overeating, being lazy, etc. I´ve been focusing on the abstention side of self-control with my personal study: How do I keep from doing what I know I shouldn´t? How important is it anyway? Paul certainly thought the topic was important. In Acts 24:25, when he stood before Felix, it joined righteousness and judgment as a topic of choice.

Many people and cultures over the years have made honest attempts at self-restraint. The Stoics celebrated the mastery of the body. Some religions attempt to suppress and even destroy desire. The military prides itself in creating men and women of discipline and order. At some level, this is possible. But what about "taking captive every thought" as 2 Corinthians 10:5? For Christians, is self-control different?

Check out this quote from
"Does Scripture give us any direction concerning self-discipline? The word "self-discipline" isn’t even found in the King James Version of the Bible. However, I wonder if another word for self-discipline in a Christian’s life might not be "obedience." Consider this. If I choose not to get up in the morning when I know I should get up, that is in reality disobedience to the Lord Jesus, Who is the director of my life.

I usually view this type of choice with seemingly minor implications—sleep in or get up—as a decision that, as an adult, I am free to independently make. While I might not be pleased with the outcome when I miss out on my morning time with the Lord Jesus, don’t get my exercise in, and start school late because I didn’t get up, I will simply sigh, blame it on a lack of self-discipline, and plan to do better tomorrow. Telling myself that I struggle with self-discipline sounds much better than to say that I am disobedient to the Lord Jesus.

The Spirit has a way of prompting, nudging, and not allowing us to be content in a life void of self-discipline and obedience. For the mom who struggles with self-discipline, it becomes a choice in her life. Will she follow the dictates of her flesh, or will she follow the promptings of the Spirit? Will she be obedient or disobedient? We can be sure that it is the Spirit Who puts the need and desire in her heart to read the Bible and pray. This probably requires her to obediently get out of bed in the morning when the alarm clock goes off so that she doesn’t miss her personal time alone with Jesus. I believe if we evaluate most, if not all, of the areas requiring self-discipline in our lives, we would agree that they are the promptings and directings of the Spirit, and they require our obedience."

Ouch!!!!!! Truthfully, I have a LOVE-HATE relationship with that quote. I recoil at the personal responsibility. Maybe you do, too. The truth is if we know to do the right thing, and we don´t do it, it IS sin. Because of that, I believe is truly impossible to have this higher level of self-control apart from a relationship with Christ. I´d like to suggest that perhaps we should be striving for living a Spirit-controlled life rather than a Self-controlled one. So. Is is a fruit of the Spirit, something produced in us automatically as we live in obedience to Christ (Gal. 5)? Why are we told to put it on, then (2 Peter 1:6). Where´s the balance?


Lanee M. said...

I appreciate your posts. I too struggle with self-disciple. Then I beat myself up because I'm not disciplined and the pain gets worse. Housework, devotions, weight loss - these are my biggest stuggles. I like my sleep and rest too much and need to kick myself to get moving.
I too could have a love-hate relationship with the quote. To think of my lack of discipline as disobedience to God. OUCH!
Your thoughts are appreciated, keep them coming.

Raylin said...

Very good post... I appreciated both this and the previous post. This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently, I really appreciated the quote... Thank you!