Monday, December 08, 2008



In the struggle to "get over yourself" it's important to examine what I call the four clanging cymbals. A clanging cymbal is when what you say and do is absent the love of Jesus and therefore is a cymbal that doesn't make a certain and attractive sound, but an offensive, clanging sound. Each of the four clanging cymbals is countered by two of the eight qualities Peter lists as essential for being most effective and fruitful. The first clanging cymbal was SELF-DOUBT and was countered by FAITH and LOVE. The second was being SELF-DIRECTED and was countered by VIRTUE and BROTHERLY KINDNESS. The third clanging cymbal is SELF-IMPORTANCE and is countered by KNOWLEDGE and GODLINESS out of Peter's dynamic list in II Peter 1.

Today's clanging cymbal is SELF-CONTROL and is countered by two more qualities from this list-SELF-STRENGTH and PERSEVERANCE. We'll examine all eight of these qualities in the session tomorrow. So, we come to self-control. There is a delicate balance between you taking control and realizing that you are being empowered by the strength of God-strengthened enough in order to have a sense of self-control.

Remember a few sessions ago we discussed how our world is out of control. When your past is out of control, it's all about guilt. When your future is out of control, it's all about fear. And when your present is out of control, it's all about anger. Although these are deadly causes of human paralysis, they can serve you well. You see, if you know your life is basically out of control without God, you are in an advanced stage of maturity and growth. Once you understand and accept your powerlessness without God, you are at a balancing point and have a sense of being centered.

Self-control is misunderstood if you think you have the power to control your life. Some of the most "controlled" people I know are addicts. They believe with all their hearts that they can control their addiction and they cannot.

The term self-control is literally self-strength. This is an inner strength and discipline that you can bring to your faith. This is to be understood as a strength that must come from your Creator. Now, that kind of self-control is productive and strengthening. This is an understanding along with the Psalmist who wrote: Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)

We make the mistake of trying to appease God by giving Him all kinds of things-money, time, and checking off my list of performances. But God cannot empower you, if you think you have it all together. He wants to take your fragility and transform it into inner strength. Remember that Jesus came to reach out to those who were lacking, not those who had it all together.

Paul realized this when he shared his personal story with the followers of Jesus at Philippi. After listing out all of his accomplishments, he compared them to a pile of manure. He said that he saw it clearly that knowing Jesus and focusing on Him is the most important thing of all-all else amounts to a pile of manure.

PERSEVERANCE is the second quality needed to counter the clanging cymbal of SELF-CONTROL. Perseverance is the determination to hang in there no matter what. It's one thing to have the inner strength that only God can give; it's quite another to hold on to this inner strength and hold on for all its worth. That's perseverance. Many times things come upon us that we either weren't prepared for or just seem to be more than usual. It's at this point that only perseverance-hanging in there-can get you through it.

In the recovery community there is a great saying: "Don't give up one day before the miracle happens." You will get through it; now hold on! This goes along with what we discussed earlier: THE BEST WAY OUT IS THROUGH.

I want to sum all of this up with this: GOD wants your fragility before He wants your ability. When you are marked 'Handle with care', He can then strengthen your life to get through it all! So count on your Creator-God for your inner strength and hang in there!