Weeding and Thinking
As I weeded this morning, I listened to a sermon about self control called A Broken Wall by Tim Keller. It was so good, I thought I’d share some of my takeaways:
Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose wall is broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”
I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with self-control. I say I’m going to do things and I don’t, I give fear and anxiety rule over my life, and though I wouldn’t say it explicitly, I implicitly say with my words and thoughts that if we just had a big chunk of money, I would be safe and happy.
Is that really a self-control issue? Well, self-control is defined as “a restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.”
or value financial security over everything else,
or comfort myself by looking at porn
or social media,
or going shopping when I feel stressed or sad…
if these desires and actions are driving the big bus of one’s life
…who’s really in control here?
Without self-control, we’re like ancient cities without walls: anybody or anything can come in and take over.
So what do we do?
How do we fight these habits and thought patterns that enslave us?
Proverbs says we run.
We run??? Sounds chicken to me.
Not chicken, unless we are exceptionally smart chickens.
Not only do we run away from these potential masters, we run to the safety of the name of the Lord.
When we feel bored or pressured or distressed, what do we do? We seek relief.
In a million different ways, we look for escape.
And eventually we find something that makes us feel better, so the next time we feel bad or sad or mad, we go back to that thing.
And a habit is formed. An addiction begins. A thought pattern is cemented. Our non-existent walls are breached.
It’s time to find a better city, to run to a more secure tower.
Run to the safety of the name of the Lord.
Where is your faith?
To run to the name of the Lord means to believe that He will act on the promises He has made to us. It is to place your faith, push all your chips in, on Jesus.
It is a request for deliverance while simultaneously believing that God is the only one who can deliver me.
The Enemy tells me, “If you just get a little bit more _______ (food, distraction, money, status), then you can rest. Then you’ll be happy.”
Faith tells me, “This other thing or thought or action will never save you; anything apart from God is imaginary fortified safety, a deception. It will only demand more and more of you while rewarding you with less and less of the safety and happiness you are seeking.”
How to run to safety:
- Forcefully, repeatedly remind yourself of who God is. When you hear those words of doubt and deception, call them out and talk back. Flip the script. A good verse to memorize and proclaim is Isaiah 58:11: “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
- Ask for help. We often forget that as believers in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit within us (“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Cor 3:16). Ask the Spirit for guidance and strength to endure and conquer. Live believing that he will give you what you need.
- Stir up your heart to love. Do you remember the story of Jacob and Rebecca in Genesis? Jacob fell hard for Rebecca; he wanted to marry her. Her dad Laban told him they could marry if Jacob worked for him for seven years. Those seven years “seemed like a few days, because his love for her was so strong.” (Gen 29:20) What we love motivates and directs us. Jesus was willing to die on the cross (the greatest act of self-control ever, as Keller points out) “for the joy set before Him” (Heb 12:2). What was the joy that gave him the will to endure the shame and pain of the cross? You were. And still are. He loves us so much! My favorite verse proclaiming God’s love for his children: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
Just sit with that for a minute:
- He rejoices over us with gladness.
- He calms us with his love.
- He exults over us with loud singing.
Loud singing! Just having us by His side causes our God to rejoice and exult! Exult is not a word we use much today, but have you ever watched your favorite team won a big game? Do you remember the feeling of the last day of school, the end of the final exam? In those moments, you exult. It’s a victory, a jubilant celebration. That’s what God experiences when He sees us. That’s a taste of the depth of his love. When we spend time thinking about how much God loves us, our orientation gets right. Doing what he says, saying no to bad choices is not as hard when we are wrapped in the comfort of his love. As Keller says, “the degree to which we believe that is the degree to which we are able to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.” Titus 2:11-14
So friend, remember how deep your Father’s love for you goes.
And let that love enable you to say no to everything that would distract and remove you from following Him wholeheartedly.