Self-control in all things

soldier-390202_6401Corinthians 9:25: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (ESV)

To be self-controlled in all things means that there is no area of excesses. Paul said that everything is lawful to him, but he will not be subject to anything (1Corinthians 6:12). He wants to be free to so the will of God without the flesh bugging him down, or distractions from any other consideration apart from the will of God.

We should abandon ourselves in God (be unrestrained) but be self-controlled in all things. Everything else needs to be limited.

When one Mary broke an alabaster box of ointment on Jesus, people around complain about her extravagance, not knowing that when it comes to Jesus, there can be no excess, but in other things we need to watch our hunger (Mark 14:1-8).

Three are the desires of the flesh which should be curtailed while we need to yield to the Holy Spirit. We should control the words of our mouth, not just saying any and everything that comes to your mind. Because it comes to your mind does not mean it should come from your mouth.

We should be controlled in what we expose ourselves to. We should be self-controlled in our association. The bible says that we should guard our hearts with all diligence because what we allow to control our heart will control our life (Proverbs 4:23).

When we embrace the word of God as we should it strengthens the command and control center of God in us. When it comes to God we should submit. We should allow him to have his way in our life, but when it comes to the devil, we should resist (James 4:7). We were told: resist the devil and he will flee from you. He is not to be tolerated. We should give the devil boundaries of limitation.

While telling us to control our association, the bible says that we should separate ourselves to God. When that happens, we become limited in our association with the world, refusing to love it.

John wrote that we should not love the world nor the things in the world, otherwise the love of the father is not in us (1John 2:15-17). We should be careful lest the love of the world creeps into our hearts. Jesus said that in the last days, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12). Paul said that men shall become lovers of themselves (2Timothy 3:1-3). They will be unrestrained when it comes to self-will.

What you love, you have given the right to control you. Love is a statement of direction. What you love you have a strong pull towards. Jesus said that we cannot serve mammon and God (Matthew 6:24). We cannot have a pull to money and to God at the same time. What you serve is what you draw towards, what you spend your time and energy on.

Money is the focus on what is earthly. When making money because an end in itself and not a means to an end then we have lost the control of our life to money.

The story of a young ruler who came to Jesus illustrates that aptly (Matthew 19:16-24). He came with the semblance of passion for God, but after all was said and done, he chose his money, rather than sacrifice it to gain life.

Paul said: I am crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). That means, “I have stopped living by the old rules, running on the old desires but I now have new desires within me. I now have the desire for the will of God. Since Jesus is our example, and he said that his food is to do the will of the father, that also is our food (John 4:34).

He is fulfilled when doing the will of God. He came to the earth to carry out the mind of God and not his own mind. Even when it comes to doing good, he allowed the will of God to guide him.

Therefore the will of God is not just about doing good rather than evil, it is also about the acceptable, perfect will of God. It is not just what is acceptable, or good but what is perfect. It is about spiritual accuracy.

Jesus was active in the will of God and passive in his own will. When a non-Israelite asked him to heal her daughter he said he has not been sent to any but to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24). Even though it was a good thing to heal her, as far as the instruction Jesus was operating under was concerned, it was not the God thing.

He was limited (self-controlled) by the will of God, and only went to the villages of Israel. Remember that the devil wanted to give him the kingdoms of the world and their glory, Jesus did not say: I do not want (Matthew 4:1-10).

But what he wanted was not the issue, it was what does the will of God say. He was self-controlled not just in not doing what is wrong, but in not doing what is right, if not the express will of God.

Jesus is our example in following the will of God. We see this play out in the life of Paul, who, armed with the good intention to preach the gospel where it has not reached, was stopped by the Holy Spirit from going to two locations while showing him that he was supposed to go in a dream. His intention was good, but that was not enough. He was not meant to just run on ambition, trying to fill a quota or a self-appointed target, but on the will of God (Acts 16:6-10).

We need to curtail our appetite for both good and bad thing and be fed on the will of God to overflowing. One man prayed for the church in Colossi that they stand complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12).

Paul also prayed for a church they will be filled with discernment (Philippians 1:9). Discernment is about separating the good and the bad. And not all bad things appear bad at first.

The bible says that the devil moved David to count the number of the children of Israel. What was wrong in a population census? Nothing, except that it was not the will of God. And because of that thousands of people died in Israel (1Chronicles 21).

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