by Tony Ledbetter
I recently heard a story told on WMIT. A lady was stopped at a red light. The light turned green, but the car in front of her evidently stalled and did not move. The light turned red again. The lady became very frustrated because she was already running late. She began to honk her horn and yell out the window. The next thing she knew there was a police officer standing at her window. She was asked to pull her car into the parking lot, where she was asked to get out of the car, put in hand cuffs, and taken to the police station.
The lady sat in the police station for approximately an hour. She was still fuming. Finally the police officer came back. He was very apologetic as he removed her handcuffs. The lady, still a little angry asked in a heated tone: “just exactly why was I arrested?” The police officer said “mam, at that red light you were yelling obscenities out of the window, honking your horn, and making some bad gestures. Then I saw the ‘follow me to church,’ and ‘honk if you love Jesus’ bumper stickers, and chrome fish on the back of the car. I assumed you had stolen the car.”
I think we all at times struggle with self-control. Self-control may have to do with temper, eating, or almost any part of our lives. Just this morning I got some news I did not like. My voice started to raise in volume with the person on the other end of the phone. This is a person God has put on my heart to plant some seeds with. What kind of witness would it be if I became angry and yelled at the person I am trying to reach for His kingdom! Thankfully the Spirit helped me realize almost immediately what I was doing, and that it was not the Godly thing to do. I fall short in this area far too often.
In a quick search I found 21 references to self-control in the Bible. In those passages self-control is viewed as Godly or good and lack of self-control is associated with evil or sin.
Jesus always showed self-control. Think of the night of His betrayal in the garden (Matthew 26:50 – 53):
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
Jesus knew what was coming next and yet instead of fleeing or encouraging his group to fight, or even calling down legions of angels he remained calm (self-controlled). Luke 22:51 even says that Jesus touched the ear of servant and healed him.
Not only did Jesus maintain His self-control, He took mercy on the one who was against him by healing him. He continued to show self-control through his trial and his crucifixion. If the creator of the universe and our Savior can show self-control in submitting to the mockery of a trial and a cruel death, how much more should we exercise self-control when something does not go our way?
Heavenly Father thank you for giving us the ultimate model of self-control in your son Jesus Christ. Thank you that He was in full control in the garden, during his trial, and as He was crucified. Help us to remember that self-control when we are faced with much lesser trials in our daily lives. Grant us strength through The Holy Spirit to not only remain self-controlled, but to show the same grace that Jesus showed us through his death and resurrection. In Jesus holy name. Amen.