17 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Self-control – For God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of love, power and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
Being patient takes self-control: the ability to curb your desire to make it happen or find a different route to make it happen. As a newcomer to the Pub scene, I am learning the skill of going to the counter to order my food and drinks. Often there is a queue waiting to be served, and within the queue there is the person who must be dying of thirst as he’s looking furtively at each of his competitors to see whom he can cut in front of with little reaction. Usually it’s me due to the confused look on my face. There is the person who mutters away under his breath; loud enough so he can be heard so those of us who are timid step back in concession to his somewhat scary demeanor. Whatever is happening in these people to cause them to be impatient, it’s clear they do not have the self-control to wait their turn. Patient is not waiting whilst trying to find a way around it or saying something about it, it is controlling your tongue and behaviour and allowing a process outside your control to unfold without interference from you.
Like so much of what Jesus did, his self-control was remarkable. Very few of us would have the self-control to answer the incessant double asking of the religious crowd. It would have taken self-restraint not to laugh at them or totally humiliate them in front of people. Jesus temptation experience with the devil in the desert was clear demonstration of self-control, where after 40 long days Satan throws his best enticements, and each time Jesus says no to Satan and to whatever part of himself that may have been tempted by the offers. It was self-control that kept Jesus from rushing the Father’s plan. It may have been disastrous if impatiently he allowed himself to be rushed to be King just to solve the immediate needs of the people. To think that the Sovereign Almighty would have to rein himself in to patiently wait for the Father’s plan to unfold. The thought should cause us to pause.
Many Christians are trying to practice generosity through the Lent season. It seems that we practice good self-control in the area of generosity; we are careful not to give too much. Maybe that is not the self-control that is needed. Self-control is the controlling of our natural selfish impulse for the purpose of achieving what God wants. So, in the realm of generosity, if your natural impulse is to give only a little, then maybe you should take control of that impulse and give more. It may be a new thought to many of us to see a generous person as one who exhibits great self-control.