Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I HEARD ABOUT A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR THAT WAS SITTING NEXT TO HIS STUDENT IN THEIR SINGLE ENGINE PLANE, WHEN HE SAID, "WELL, I THINK IT'S TIME TO TAKE HER IN FOR A LANDING. ARE YOU READY TO GO DOWN?" THE STUDENT SAID, "NO PROBLEM, LET'S DO IT." WELL, AS THEY WERE APPROACHING THE RUNWAY, THE INSTRUCTOR LOOKED AT HIS STUDENT AND NOTICED HOW CALM HE WAS. NORMALLY, STUDENTS WHO ARE COMING IN FOR THEIR FIRST LANDING WERE NERVOUS, WIDE-EYED, AND SWEATING BULLETS. BUT THIS YOUNG MAN WAS AS COOL AS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PILLOW. THE INSTRUCTOR THOUGHT TO HIMSELF, "I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW CALM THIS YOUNG MAN IS. HE WILL MAKE A GREAT PILOT." BUT THEN THE PLANE HIT THE RUNWAY WITH A THUD, BOUNCED FIFTY FEET INTO THE AIR, HIT AND BOUNCED AGAIN, RAN OFF THE RUNWAY AND LANDED UPSIDE DOWN IN A CORNFIELD. THE INSTRUCTOR, STILL STRAPPED IN HIS SEAT UPSIDE DOWN, LOOKED AT HIS STUDENT AND SAID, "SON, THAT WAS THE WORST FIRST LANDING ANY STUDENT OF MINE HAS EVER MADE." THE STUDENT SAID, "ME? I THOUGHT YOU WERE LANDING THE PLANE." NOW THAT YOUNG PILOT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN IN CONTROL OF THE PLANE, BUT HE WAS IN CONTROL OF HIMSELF. THAT IS THE ESSENCE OF THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT CALLED "SELF-CONTROL." FOR SELF-CONTROL IS WHEN YOU ARE IN CONTROL WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE IS NOT.MANY ARE LIKE THE PROFESSIONAL GOLFER, DOUG SANDERS, WHO ONCE SAID, "I'M WORKING AS HARD AS I CAN TO GET MY LIFE AND MY CASH TO RUN OUT AT THE SAME TIME. IF I CAN DIE RIGHT AFTER LUNCH ON TUESDAY, EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE."
THIS FIRST GRADE TEACHER, AND HER CLASS OF THIRTY-TWO FIRST GRADERS, HAD WATCHED IT RAIN ALL DAY LONG. THE LAST BELL HAD RUNG, IT WAS TIME TO GO HOME, AND THIS TEACHER BEGAN PUTTING GALOSHES ON ALL THIRTY-TWO OF THOSE FIRST GRADERS.
SHE CAME TO THE LAST LITTLE GIRL AND SHE WAS SO EXCITED THAT SHE WAS ABOUT FINISHED WITH THIS DIRTY CHORE, AND SHE BEGAN TO PUT THEGALOSHES ON THIS LITTLE GIRL, AND THEY WERE UNUSUALLY TIGHT. SHE STRUGGLED, SHE STRAINED, SHE PULLED, SHE TUGGED, SHE GRUNTED, SHE GROANED, AND FINALLY GOT THE GALOSHES ON THAT LAST LITTLE GIRL. JUST AS SHE FINISHED
SNAPPING THEM INTO PLACE, THE LITTLE GIRL SAID: "YOU KNOW WHAT TEACHER? THESE AREN'T MY GALOSHES."
THE TEACHER COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. SHE STRUGGLED, SHE STRAINED, SHE PULLED, SHE TUGGED, SHE GRUNTED, SHE GROANED, UNTIL GLISTENING WITH SWEAT, SHE FINALLY YANKED THE GALOSHES OFF THOSE LITTLE GIRL'S FEET. JUST AT THE MOMENT SHE FINALLY SNAPPED THEM OFF, THE LITTLE GIRL LOOKED UP AT HER AND SAID: "THEY'RE MY SISTERS AND SHE LETS ME WEAR THEM."
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Daniel Goleman titled Emotional Intelligence. In that book I found out some interesting stuff about our brains. When we experience an external stimulus—when we see, touch, smell, taste, or hear something—that stimulus rushes to two parts of our brains: our emotional brain, the amygdala, and the rational brain, the neocortex. The problem is that there is a shortcut to the emotional brain, so a few milliseconds before we are able to think about it, we feel it. Goleman offered the example of a waitress who dropped six dinners when she glimpsed a woman with a huge head of red hair. The waitress’s husband left her for a woman who had big, red hair, and her amygdala sent her into panic before her neocortex said, “That's not the woman!” Those are called “Pre-cognitive emotions”— reactions based on bits of sensory information that haven't been sorted through. All of us have those “pre-cognitive emotions.” How often have you said, “I reacted before I thought,” or, “I must not have been thinking.” One way of understanding self-control is learning not to live life guided by our amygdalas. The biblical meaning of self-control is to “get a grip”—to get a handle on our responses and decisions instead of being guided by our flawed emotions and faulty impulses.
When you read the results of a race—be it cars, people, or animals—it's not unusual to see DNF attached to some entrants' names. The letters—standing for did not finish—indicate those who had to quit. Sometimes the reason is also indicated: a blown engine, for example, a pulled muscle, or lameness.
What if the equivalent to a DNF were put by the name of every seminary graduate who is now doing something other than the ministry they once felt called to? Every study of dropouts I hear about suggests that it would be an enormous list.
If reasons were affixed, you might read stress/burnout, or conflict, inadequate people skills, insufficient leadership capability, poor work habits, family unhappiness, or mean-spirited congregants. There would be many others, of course.
And among those, be one that would probably catch the eye fastest: moral failure. The term arouses a lot of natural curiosity and not a little apprehension. The mind wonders: What happened? Why? How was it discovered? What has happened to the people involved? Could this happen to me?
The term moral failure covers a broad spectrum of tragic conduct. Someone has acknowledged an attraction to pornography; another is discovered to have engaged in an improper relationship (with either gender); still a third is found to have a history of some kind of molestation. Is this list large enough?
Given Jesus' sweeping definition of adultery (the intents of the heart), I suppose we are all moral failures in one way or another. Murderers, too. Some in Christian leadership go beyond the intents of the heart and act out the intentions. Almost every time, an unspeakable heartbreak ripples out into lots of lives. And, beyond that, there is always disillusionment, scorn, and the loss of trust that accompanies such sin. Sins of the flesh are destructive and usually result in a DNF.
Galatians ,23--But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Proverbs 25:28 [LB]--A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.
Anything uncontrolled can harm your relationships:
Uncontrolled anger - Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. Moses blew it without self control when he struck the rock and scored a DNF! Think of Moses. He failed to control his anger against the people of
Uncontrolled lust - Proverbs 6:26 For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread, but an adulteress goes after your very life Samson blew it without self control and scored a DNF. Think of Samson. He failed to control his lust. This led him to marry a Philistine woman, to sleep with a prostitute, and to go to Delilah. He ended up losing his strength and his eyes.
Uncontrolled spending - Proverbs Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them Achan and Gehazi and they scored a DNF!
Think of Achan. He failed to control his covetousness. This led him to take from
Think of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha. He failed to control his greed. This led him to lie so he and his family ended up with Naaman's leprosy.
Uncontrolled drinking - Proverbs -35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
Noah Scores A DNF!
Think of the Jewish rulers. They failed to control their envy. This led them to plot against Jesus, to make false accusations against Him, and to crucify Him.- Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
Saul scored A DNF, And Demas 2Tim For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;
How can we develop self control?
Remember the importance of duty.
“Be faithful ‘till death.” So says God’s word in Revelation 8:10. There are no mystical secrets there. It is simply being true to that which you know is right until you die. Being true to what you know is right even if it kills you. There is a lot to be said for a sense of duty.
General Douglas macArthur said in his last speech at
Church members have a duty to their church. Membership carries with it responsibilities. And members of this church have the duty to make a commitment to supporting this church financially, as well as with our gifts and passions.
A student has a duty to learn. Unless you are working to put yourself through school, someone is providing your education for you. (And if you’re putting yourself through school, then I probably don’t have to remind you to study.) So, as corny as it sounds, it is your duty to study, and not to squander your opportunity to get an education.
It’s time we introduced “duty” into our vocabulary.
Keep in mind what’s important.
One of the most well-known stories in the Bible about a lack of self-control is the story of Esau. In a weak moment of craving, tempted by the smell of savory stew, he defaulted on his future inheritance. The aroma went straight to his amygdala. And he traded his inheritance to his treacherous brother, Jacob, for a bowl of Brunswick stew. Esau forgot
what was important. Self-control is far, far more than learning to say “no.” Self-control grows out of a deep, burning awareness of what’s important.
We often think of self-control only in terms of denying ourselves something that might be bad for us but sure would be a lot of fun. Self-control often seems like nothing more than gritting our teeth and white-knuckling our way through life, pitying ourselves for missing out on so much good stuff. Self-control certainly does include self-denial, but self-control at its best is a recognition of things so important that we won’t sacrifice them for temporary and insignificant pleasures.
For example, a woman with self-control has a deep sense of rightness about being healthy. Her decisions are far more than saying “no” to the second piece of cake. When she goes out to run or exercise it’s about far more than saying “no” to sitting on the couch for an hour watching a re-run of CSI. It’s about saying “yes” to her health. People with self-control look at that new boat or that new dress and think how wonderful that purchase would be…but they realize the deep satisfaction and peace that come from managing our money well and they realize how foolish many of our purchases are. So their decision is about far more than saying “no” to the purchase; it’s about saying “yes” to staying out of debt and to financial stewardship.
A teenager with self-control believes that his or her future, health, and relationship with God are so important that he or she will not sacrifice those things for the kinds of things that everybody else seems to be doing.
Our families, our congregations, our futures, our integrity, and our spiritual health, are all too valuable to sacrifice them on the altar of those things that might be temporarily enticing but far less important. Self-control isn’t first about saying “no” to the stew; it’s about saying “yes” to our inheritance.
Live by the Spirit
Just a few verses before our text on the fruit of the Spirit, in Galatians 5:16, we read: So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
No matter how badly you long to be loving, joyful, peaceful, and for your life to exhibit all these aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, including self-control, you cannot do this on your own. While there is an unmistakable responsibility for us to choose to be more gentle, more faithful, and so on, there is far more to it than personal “want to.” It is primarily about letting God become more and more the center and driver of our lives. In other words, we have to live by God’s Spirit.
Weeds grow on their own. Fruit requires attention and work. So it is with spiritual fruit. So make worship your lifestyle, not just a hit or miss activity. Get up early and read your Bible and pray. When those big decisions and events come along go on a twenty-four hour fast. Join a small group and/or a Bible Study class. Use our media center like a health food store. Get some Christian music CDs and make drive time worship time. And the ability to control those flawed emotions and faulty impulses will grow more and more natural for you.
Erect good walls
Proverbs 25:28 says, "A man who lacks self-control is like a city whose walls are broken down."
And at that moment Jim and Sue turn a corner. And down the street they are now on await deceit and lies and heartache. They forgot the walls. In the workplace we must establish walls: conversations we wont’ have; circumstances we won’t get ourselves into. Unmarried couples must build good walls. Over the last couple of weeks our teenagers, in their Sunday night Area Bible Study groups, have been talking about biblical guidelines for God’s gift of sexuality. And I applaud those who have led it and those who decided on the topic.
Let me add my two cents to that. You guys need to build walls. And the walls need to be just beyond your lips. In other words, you can kiss. Guys, when you walk your dates to the door you can say, “I’d like a kiss, please. The preacher said it’s all-right.” (I know that’s fun. Lorelle and I kissed once before we were married, too.) But beyond your lips you need a wall—a wall that will say, “That’s as far as I go.” And let me tell you—now is the time to build the wall. Can you imagine someone saying, as Katrina blew into
And, hear me now, the time to build your wall is not on the couch in your den in the dark with your hormones flowing like
Titus 2:11-12: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
We would imagine that God would say if we follow His rules we will have self-control. But He says, “No, primarily it’s grace.” Self-discipline and deciding to do and be better will never make you who you want to be. You will never find peace with God by trying to follow all the rules. But when we accept His love doing the right thing comes naturally.
The great missionary to
(Prov 25:28) Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control