As you’re probably aware, I recently purchased a new car. And if you’ve bought a car you know it’s a long, stressful process. As I was crunching numbers, thinking through which car I wanted to purchase and all other things car-related; the Lord revealed to me an area in my life that wasn’t so pretty. Self-control/discipline.
Yes, I just said that dreaded “s” word. It amazes me how self-control (or the lack there of) affects just about every area of ones life. Thoughts. Speech. Finances. Relationships. Appearance. Weight. Clothing. What you eat. Internet. E-mail. Books. Music. Hobbies. Family. Movies. You name it and somewhere along the way you’ll find that self-control effects it. I realized that my lack of discipline (in a few specific areas) wasn’t just affecting me today. It wasn’t just a here and now thing. My lack of discipline and self-control would affect me 20 years down the road. Normally (unless God chooses to change our sinful hearts instantly…in that area) what you don’t do in your twenties, you still won’t do in your forties. And what you do today as a single will affect your spouse and children later. Sobering, huh?
There were three areas that I was specifically convicted…finances, weight, and organization. I find it interesting that obesity and anorexia are at such a high in our country. I find it interesting that folks my age live like their parents (thus incurring MUCH debt). And we’re being foolish. We’re living for the day, not That Day. We’re living in the moment, not thinking that the moment will affect the next 20+ years.
When my parents were in their 20s they were dirt poor. They barely made ends meet. They worked hard, were responsible, and saved when they could. In His grace, God has kindly blessed them. They’re not exuberantly wealthy, but they’re comfortable. They live in their means and don’t pay for things they can’t afford. They budget and are wise with their expenditures. How often do children (once they are on there own) live the same way they did when they had an allowance and lived at home. They have bills, car repairs, and now have to buy their own food. But, in addition to the basics they buy everything they were accustomed to buying when they were at home. They expect to live like a 50 year old (with 30+ years of working experience), when they are in their 20s. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most folks in their 20s don’t have the jobs or salary that their parents do. They haven’t built up their credit and they don’t typically have a lot in savings. Yet, we expect to live like our parents.
I haven’t done this in huge things. But, it amazes me how little things add up. An iced tea, a $5 movie, a cool new gadget, new headphones. Small things. But a lot of small things add up to a lot. I’m not incurring huge debt, but by frivolously spending “just a little”, I’m not saving. I still live at home. I should be able to save a lot. But, I don’t. Why? ‘Cause I want to live how I want to live. Actually, I lack discipline and self-control.
The same thing applies to my weight and my closet. I do what I want. What feels right. What is the easiest. I’ll never be a size 3 (and I don’t want to be)! I don’t want to loose weight simply to be skinny. I want to be healthy. I want to be disciplined. And I want to glorify God.
My closet isn’t ever going to look like they do on TV. But, is it really that hard to put things back where they go? I mean really. Does it really take that much time? I don’t want to strive for perfection, just obedience.
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Prov. 25:28
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor. 9:24-27
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal. 5:16-24
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Tim. 3:1-3
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-8
My generation is foolish. They live for today with no thought for tomorrow. They go after their desires instead of following Jesus Christ. I’m foolish. Though in different (often small) ways, I live for today and my desires. (And big or small, they’re all sin and they all crucified the Savior.) Often I’m more concerned with what I want than what my Savior wants. I can often be like that broken city with no walls. But, there is good news!!!
I’ve been very convicted. But, I haven’t stayed there. I haven’t wallowed around in the knowledge of my sin and how terrible I am (though I was tempted). In the midst of my conviction the Holy Spirit reminded me of a very important point. I am a redeemed sinner. I am a child of God. I have been justified and I have been adopted. My problems aren’t with my personality, they’re with my sinful heart. And the fact that I’m sinning brings me much hope. If it was a personality problem then I would be stuck. It’s hard to change the personality God has given you. But, if your problem is sin, then there is much hope for change. That is the glory of the gospel! So, I sat myself down, repented, and cried out for help. And as always, God heard my plea for assistance. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m making progress. I’m not taking on the world. Just one step in one area at a time. God is giving me the grace and power to change. And it’s so cool to watch!!!
Through many dangers, toils and snares…
we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.