Clif and I went to dinner with a fairly large group of people this past weekend. Being unfamiliar with the area, we let the hosts of our gathering pick the eatery and soon arrived at a buffet style restaurant that we’d never been to before. The towering structure dwarfed all the adjacent establishments and once we entered, we discovered that besides several dining areas, the building housed three completely separate rooms featuring massive food lines, each with a staggering array of selections from a wide variety of cuisines. As I walked down the aisles to survey the options (after all, there’s just so much you can sample), I passed patron after patron carrying plates piled with enough food to easily feed two or three adults, only to later see many of these same folks return to the lines one, two or even three more times! I had to wonder why. Was it the sheer gluttonous indulgence of an eating frenzy? Was it greed, realizing that no matter how much was consumed, the price would be the same? Knowing the discomfort that would soon follow such over-indulgence, you would think that most would be capable of more self-control!
For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly. ~ Proverbs 5:23
Be they sports celebrities, entertainment moguls, every day people in your workplace, or even the locals at the neighborhood buffet, today’s world is full of individuals lacking discipline. Not only does this manifest in over-indulgent eating habits, poor physical exercise, reckless time management, and disastrous choices in relationships are all too common as well. But as if undisciplined personal choices weren’t bad enough, the natural bent of our societal herd is to make ourselves feel better by applauding others who have no boundaries or self-control as well. (Rom 1:32)
Take a quick look at social media or pop culture and you’ll see almost daily examples of the most thoughtless and impulsive behavior imaginable. And that the wilder and more bizarre the behavior, the more chic and in vogue it seems to become. Even within the Christian community there is a tendency to overlook and even ignore those who live quiet lives of control and focus, perhaps believing them to be less in tune with the movements of the Spirit or out of touch with fashionable trends.
However, scripture clearly encourages disciples of Jesus to be “upright, holy and disciplined” (Titus 1:8) and for all believers to exhibit the godly fruit of “self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) When woven into the fabric of your ordinary life, order, structure and discipline serve as guidelines to keep you solidly on the path of spiritual growth and become a framework of wisdom to establish an enduring life built on the foundation of faith in God.
There are probably hundreds of authors and preachers who would present this as a complex endeavor, offering “11 Steps to a Controlled Life,” a 5 part video series, or even the modern equivalent to a “What Would Jesus Do” bracelet, but it’s really no more complicated than saying ‘no’ to what you know is unhealthy, destructive or wrong, then deliberately choosing to turn your back and leave. How that plays out in your personal life is where it gets sticky. It requires learning the wisdom of scripture and purposefully using it to identify what to avoid. But even that’s not enough since it’s imperative that you lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to then give you strength to walk away. It doesn’t matter if your weakness is a potentially disastrous personal relationship or the local mega-buffet, you can confidently know that your Heavenly Father plans the best for you and, through faith in Christ, has given you the power to overcome!
Who is it that overcomes the world?
Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:5