Filed under: leadership, life, people, relationships | Tags: anger, appetite, christianity, contentment, david herndon, drunk driving, ephesians 4, fruits of the spirit, gossip, lust, news, people, relationships, self-control, sxsw, sxsw accident, time management, words, youth ministry
“Suspect in deadly SXSW crash charged with capital murder.” That was the headline I read on USA Today. I usually follow the SXSW headlines hoping to catch wind of a new band about to break or a new film I need to see. This story stopped me in my tracks. A drunk driver plowed through a crowd of festival attendees, killing three and injuring dozens more. How does this happen? How does a person get this out of control? More importantly how do I protect myself from losing control?
He can explain himself. He can justify it. He can make excuses. But it doesn’t matter. The damage is done and the headline is written.
Drunk driving through the crowd. Three people dead. That’s his headline for the rest of his life.
One more drink, one more TV episode, one more word in the argument. Our all-you-can-eat buffet and reality TV society even seems to encourage a lifestyle of losing control. Lack of self-control brings down our politicians and religious leaders. It takes the lives of our party-hard teens. It costs us our jobs. It hurts our friendships. It makes us the most obese country in the world. It passes around STD’s. It breaks up our families. It ruins our lives. Yet when life gets tough and we get frustrated, our instinct is to lose control.
Rough day? Have a few drinks.
Arguing with your spouse? Use a few expletives.
Feeling unhappy? Put it on the credit card.
We might not drunk-drive through the crowd, but when we lose self-control the results can be just as harmful.
Depending on the translation, the word “self-control” appears roughly 74 times in the Bible. Self-control is about social responsibility and personal holiness. Paul says it is a fruit of the Spirit – evidence of Christ at work in our lives. Self-control is the root of the Great Commandment. We express love to God by expressing love to others. Self-control is more than just new age self-improvement. Self-control is about caring for others by caring for yourself.
Self-control speaks more of our devotion to God’s kingdom than any other discipline in life.
Self-control is not just about refraining from (insert vice). Self-control is about being human. Self-control is about reflecting God’s image. Self-control is about thinking of others first. And since we really don’t have any control in life, its really about depending on the One who does.
We need self-control in our WORDS. Mike Foster wrote a fantastic article about refraining from gossip. You should definitely read his blog. Ephesians 4 further encourages us to think twice before we speak. There are many things we can say for many reasons, but the heart of the matter is why we are saying them. If your words are not beneficial for those who hear it (including yourself), then perhaps you should stay quiet.
We need self-control in our ANGER. The bible is clear (also Ephesians 4). Anger is not a sin, but what you do with your anger could be. Self-Control draws the line between reasonable frustration and savage brutality. Knocking the chair over now relieves stress, but later you have nowhere to rest. Yelling now feels good, but later no one is listening to you at all.
We need self-control in our LUST. Sexual sins carry bigger consequences because they are against your own body. Our society isn’t doing us any favors in this area, but when we objectify others for our personal pleasure we have failed humanity. We cheapen our own lives by devaluing others. If we cannot exhibit self-control in our own purity, we will certainly be a pollutant in others’ lives.
We need self-control in our APPETITE. One more drink, one more bite, one more dollar, one more rep, the newest car, the nicest restaurant – these things are not evil in themselves. But when we begin to love things and to pursue things with a majority of our time, energy, and passion we are in a dangerous place. Most likely the ones who get caught holding the check are those around us.
Finally, we need self-control in our TIME. On one hand we are a society of 80-hour-work-week execs, and on the other hand we are 24/7 gamers and Netflix autoplay. Rest too much and you’ll be constantly discontent. Work too much and you’ll never be satisfied. You will know when you find someone who lives the balance between work and rest. They are productive and successful and yet they still know how to enjoy life. They don’t have the most/best, but they have what they need… and are content with it. A one-dimensional schedule produces a one-dimensional life.
Perhaps the problems we have in our relationships are less about how others treat us and more about how we treat ourselves.
If we can have self-control in these 5 areas our faith, our families, our lives, and our world will be drastically better for it. We all have seasons of frustration, discontentment, loneliness. The temptation is to go a little crazy until you feel better. But God is not a God of extremes. He is a God of control and order, and He calls us to be people of control and order.
Self-control is about depending on God. Self-control is about loving others.
Without self-control we are just drunk driving through the crowd.
That’s not what I want my headline to be.