Tag Archives: self-control

A Good Grip on the Truth

[A church leader must] have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.
Titus 1:8-9, MSG*

The Spirit caught my attention with “have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth.” That expanded to include “have a good grip on yourself.”

For me, the reminder is to get and keep a good grip on myself—take troubling thoughts captive to Christ, use the armour of God, keep repeating the words He gives me about His shepherding and my freedom. Hold tightly to Scripture and use it wisely.

The challenge in the verse is to do this in cooperation with Him for my own healing and growth, and at the same time to keep alert to the wider picture to see where and how He wants to use me in others’ lives.

God my Shepherd, Healer and King, Your Word is the sword of truth. Help me use it wisely, in battle for myself and for others, as You equip and direct.  

Here’s a classic hymn that has blessed me a few times this week (most notably at the close of this year’s Write! Canada conference… over 200 voices, singing exuberantly): “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” sung here by Chris Rice.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Scattered Thoughts

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV*

Take captive every thought…

Paul is calling Christians to live “in the world but not of the world” and not to judge by human standards but by God’s. He’s talking about spiritual warfare and tearing down everything that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God”.

There’s a fierceness to his tone even though he starts with “By the humility and graciousness of Christ I appeal to you.

For me, the idea of taking every thought captive has meant not allowing myself to dwell on negatives and other temptations, but choosing to think about good and positive things. In reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts I’ve come to apply the verse by choosing gratitude instead of ingratitude.

But what if there’s more?

Take captive every thought…

Sometimes when I’m tired, this means pulling my thoughts together and marshalling enough mental energy to carry on in His strength.

Far more frequently than that, it means not letting my thoughts skitter away in all directions. Some of them rabbit-trail, others try to get into the future ahead of me.

“Take captive” is a good picture of what’s needed: they can bolt like a herd of wild horses, and I need a firm hand to lasso them and get them back into the corral.

Father, I want to live in the present, grounded and aware, seeking You first. I can’t do this on my own. Help me bring every thought and focus in line with You. Help me take one thing at a time, walking with You, open to hear anything You might say.

Here’s Michael Card’s “In Stillness and Simplicity.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Spiritual Self-Control

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version, ©2010)*

Self-control. Maybe because the King James Version calls it “temperance,” I’ve always thought of this fruit of the Spirit as “refraining from excess and from bad behaviour.”

Last week my Bible study group talked about the Holy Spirit being the fuel… how much or how little of Him to we make room for? We also talked about quieting ourselves to listen and obey, to do things God’s way.

The next day the post at Other Food: Daily Devos continued the challenge: “My Will or His?

These things made me wonder if this passage about the fruit of the Spirit uses self-control not so much for the outer actions (as important as that is) but to describe bringing our spirits into line with the Holy Spirit, placing them under His direction.

Not in a repressive way, but a submission, a surrender, a placing of self under God’s authority and direction. A making room for His Spirit to shape, develop and refine us.

After pondering and praying about this the following morning, what verse did my eye catch?

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15, NIV*, quoting Psalm 95:7-8)

Lord, help me hear and recognize Your voice. Help me not follow my default pattern of hardening my heart by choosing my way over Yours. Help me to control and quiet my inner self so that Your Spirit within me has room to rise and to develop His fruit in me. To Your glory, and for my own spiritual wellbeing.

Lead Me to the Cross,” by Chris and Conrad, isn’t the old hymn you may expect. Let it minister to your spirit today… especially listen for the line “rid me of myself”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.