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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Self-control (for men)

Peter and Paul both wrote about self-control a pretty good bit in the Bible. In their letters, they encouraged readers to pursue self-control and teach others to seek the same fruit for themselves. I've been thinking about that throughout today as I've contemplated the significance of that trait, especially for men.

In a world looking for role models that are worth following, self-control seems to be a disappearing trait. I think that's the reason why the sports page looks like a police report these days. It is why men struggle with secret sins or failed attempts at greatness. What can't be controlled cannot be used for good. And, for many men, the desires of self are the greatest obstacles we face as we strive to be what God created us to be.

It is our desire that drives us to bitterness, rage, lust and war. It is our desire that keeps us from realizing the dream of family, relationships, careers and commitment. Stephen Covey once wrote,

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage--pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically--to say 'no' to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger 'yes' burning inside. The enemy of the 'best' is often the 'good.'

Self-control is the art of deciding what is most important for you and allowing nothing to keep you from fulfilling that dream in you. If I want to commit to my marriage and it is the most important thing for me, then other women, my career or my fantasies will not force me to become distracted. That means I am willing to take whatever steps, whatever measures necessary to avoid the traps of "good" when "best" awaits me.

Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (My translation: I've come to take your good and turn it into my best)

Guys, we've become distracted. Dare I say out of control? At a time when our families need us, our kids are looking for direction and our culture is eroding away, we've convinced ourselves that our self-worth (and, therefore, our purpose) is found in money, power, prestige, popularity and comfort. Nothing could be further from the truth. Guys, don't fall prey to the distractions of this world. Money disappears. Power is fleeting. Prestige only lasts as long as you have the attention of a world with A.D.D. Nothing will satisfy you more than the pursuit of God and His Kingdom. That pursuit cannot happen without self-control.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:8-11 The Message

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