But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7
I remember the first time I read Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.” I remember thinking about that verse all summer and asking myself what it would look like to do my job for Him, and not do it simply for a paycheck. It looked a lot different. It felt a lot different too. For the first time, I was choosing to go to work and not being forced to go to work. I was actually in control.
I remember reading about Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife’s sexual advances. Then, I read 1 Corinthians 6:18 and it said, “Flee sexual immorality.” For the first time, I thought, “I’ve been trying to fight sexual immorality and failing miserably, the Bible says flee from it.” I remember having a conversation with my girlfriend about this and then her very soon after breaking up with me. It hurt, but at least now I knew that I was in control.
I could go on and on with these examples. The point is this: Reading and studying the Bible gives you the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding you need to have self-control. As soon as you are in a position where you could sin, you will think of that verse you read, the story you read, or recall the thing that preacher said. Then, you will make a choice. If you are like me, you won’t always make the right choice, but hey, it doesn’t say you will make the right choice, it just says you will be in control.
I remember learning that one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience. I had always been told that patience was good to have, but I didn’t know the Bible made it a big deal. Even now, I do not have a natural inclination towards patience. I always have to make the choice to be patient. One time, I remember flying home from work for absolutely no reason. I was probably going 60 in a 45. I thought of being patient and felt like God say, “Why are you in such a hurry?” I immediately hit the brakes to slow down. Two seconds later, in the turn up ahead a truck going probably 70 cut the corner in my lane and barely missed me. I would have hit them head on.
Would you say that you are in control of yourself? I love being in control of myself. Mainly, I love it because I remember what it was like to naturally gravitate toward what the Bible calls sin and evil. At the very least, 95% of the time I feel like I am in control. I sometimes do a lot of apologizing for that leftover 5% when I give in to anger and frustration that seems to comes so natural. Before Christ, I could not help but say cuss words, be sexually immoral, hate going to work, hate certain people, watch trashy movies, and do all sorts of other stupid, stupid things that keep millions and millions of people who say they are Christians from advancing in their journey from faith to love.
This Thanksgiving weekend you may be all over the place. Many of you will probably be constantly cooking. Many will have to hang out with less than desirable family members. All sorts of situations may rise where you could behave by your natural instincts, or you could behave by choice.
Lord, help me choose the latter!