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Why Self-Expression Isn’t A Biblical Virtue But Self-Control Is

In reading through the letters of Paul and Peter, I continue to be surprised by his emphasis on one of the least glamorous aspects of the Christian life: self-control.

For example . . .

” … so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (I Corinthians 7:5)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“[in the last days, people will be] without self-control.” (2 Timothy 3:3)

“and to knowledge [add] self-control.” (2 Peter 1:6)

It’s clear, then, that surrendering control of our more natural instincts — anger, lust, greed — to the power of God is at the heart of living the Christian life.

But let’s face it: that’s not a huge draw for Christianity. Most people are looking for less self-control, not more. It’s not like we’d put a banner in front of Good Shepherd declaring, “Enter Here And Discover Self-Control!”

Yet perhaps we should.

Think of all the problems we would avoid if self-control became characteristic of the way we live.

Which of us hasn’t lost control of our tongue — and gotten into trouble as a result?

Or lost control of our temper — and so hurt the ones we love the most?

Or lost control of sexual appetites — and the resulting relational trauma that goes along with it?

Or even lost control of drugs & alcohol — with the arrest record to prove it.

Biblical self-control, then, falls into that marvelous category of crisis prevention as opposed to crisis management.

Not very glamorous. But vitally important. Thanks, Peter. Thanks, Paul.

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