The plane hovered in the air above bright white puffs of clouds. I had begun to get antsy. I wanted to touch down in New York City just to feel something stable beneath me, but I had to wait. We were only one hour into our four hour flight.
I peeled through pages of a book when suddenly, the plane shook. My eyes bulged and I gripped the edges of the book cover tightly. I hate turbulence and frequently, when I travel, I suffer from motion sickness. This is a combination I didn’t want to experience on 4 hours of sleep. The notification light went off and one of the pilots spoke over the intercom to tell us that there would be 20 to 30 minutes of turbulence ahead of us. And just like that, the plane dipped low and shrieks filled the cabin of passengers.
I could tell you I was brave, but that would be a lie. I was scared. I was terribly scared and no matter how hard I tried to control the napkins, cup and book on the tray in front of me I couldn’t. They moved swiftly and aggressively. No matter how hard I tried to keep my hands still I couldn’t. They whipped to the movement of the plane.
Ultimately, I felt out of control.
I wonder if our spiritual lives are a little like turbulence and a lot like those 20 minutes when my plane soared uneasily above the Atlantic Ocean. When we lack self control, we lack the ability to walk consistently with God.
Self control is paramount to our faith. Self control is paramount to our spiritual growth.
1 Corinthians 9:24-26 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;”
These were the key verses for the 18th Annual Parks Garden Church of Christ Ladies Day in Puerto Rico. We talked about running the spiritual race set before us, we talked about attaining a spiritual crown. Nestled between these two concepts is the idea of self control.
Why do we need self control? Why is it a fruit of the Spirit? Why does God want us to possess and exercise self control?
- God is self controlled. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” There is nothing about God that is not organized, fully thought out and controlled in peace. The story of creation is such proof of this.
- Jesus is self controlled. When He was being mocked and accused, the Bible says, “But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor”, in Matthew 27:14. Can you imagine someone accusing you of something you did not do? Would you vehemently deny it or allow your silence to speak its own truth? I pray to become more like Jesus in those types of situations so my track record for righteousness can speak for me.
- When we lack self control we are susceptible to falling into any pattern of sin. The only way we can truly resist the devil is to resist the urge of sin. It is not easy, exercising self control, but we must if we want to obey God. 2 Timothy 3:2-5 reminds us of this by saying, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents,ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” These are the signs of the ending times. It sounds like 2015 if we’re honest.
If we want to understand how to truly place spiritual seeds into our lives, we have to believe that self control is necessary. It is a reflection of God and Jesus. Through the power given to us by the Holy Spirit we are able to control ourselves and soar above the urges of sin the way a plane soars above clouds. Our spiritual walk may become bumpy, but with God will not fall, with God we will not fail. He will surely ensure we get safely to our destination.