03 April 2012

3) The Safety of Self-Control

Chapter 4, third blog post in this series of seven... This chapter obviously deals with self-control.  It is commanded in Scripture, a fruit of the Spirit, and something that is not super easy (at least for me)!  But, the good news, as Carolyn Mahaney writes, "[I]f Scripture requires self-control from every Christian, it is obviously attainable...whenever God gives a command , He also provides the grace to obey it."

She starts by talking about things we enjoy, our appetites, which, sadly, includes sin!  Sin indwelling and originating in our hearts makes self-control so difficult (along with any other God-glorifying action!).  She addresses eating and sleeping to the glory of God, which seem so mundane, but are areas in which many women lack self-control.  Martha Peace, too, has something to say on the issue of sleep , "...Once a young wife begins getting up earlier than her children and her husband, she will cease to be a 'night person.'  She will be tired at night and go to bed at a reasonable hour so she will be there to serve her family the next morning."  Yikes!  I am definitely guilty of wasting time when Maggie is in bed and Robert is up late doing school work just "online window shopping" - which, there is absolutely nothing wrong with...until I grumble as I get out of bed in the morning because I'm still tired!  Obviously, though, I take this with a grain of salt and know that late and early mean different things for different people; but, I still thought that this was helpful and a goal to certainly strive for - namely, being prepared each morning to serve my family with joy!

Next, she moves on to our thoughts and feelings.  This section was super helpful!  2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to "take  every thought captive to obey Christ."  It's so obvious and simple, but so profound, "Sinful thoughts and sinful feelings lead to sinful behavior.  Therefore, we dare not  ignore these faculties, but we must exercise self-control in them."  I listened to a fabulous sermon years ago by this dear author's husband, CJ Mahaney from Resolved 2009, entitled The Troubled Soul (and I would encourage you to listen to it).  In this he talks about talking to yourself versus listening to yourself...Martin Lloyd-Jones says it like this, "Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself."  Those sound sort of like the same thing, I know, but there is a huge difference between allowing our thoughts to run wild and preaching the truth of Scripture to ourselves!  I find it so easy to become greatly overwhelmed by a small thing; a little issue becomes magically compounded by 85 things that happened last week and/or what might happen next year!  Suddenly, God is not on His throne and He certainly doesn't care about me and what I'm going through!  FALSE!  Carolyn writes, and I so agree, "Time and time gain I had to stop, pray, confess the sin of anxiety, and seek to replace my sinful thoughts with the truth of God's Word...I needed to 'talk' to myself: There is always enough time to do what God has called me to do (Matt. 6:25-27).  God's grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). He is with me, and He will help me (Isa. 41:10).  He does care (1 Peter 5:7)."  We can exercise self-control by "rejecting your sinful thoughts AND speaking truth to yourself" (emphasis mine).  It's the classic put off and put on found all throughout Scripture!  

It is so important for me to remember that my "feelings are not authoritative," but at the same time they are real indicators of what is truly in my heart!  Just because I feel something doesn't make it true.  Yet, feelings are a gift from God, and they were given primarily so that we could enjoy and glorify Him!  They are such a great gift - feelings enable us to really enjoy all of our other gifts from God, like our wonderful families and food and sleep!  God is so kind; it is His Spirit that works in us so that we can glorify Him through our feelings and through our self-control!  Praise the Lord for His goodness; it is never-ending!

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