Self Control

Really I’m kind of surprised we haven’t looked at this subject by now. Today is our 258th meeting of this year and the first in which we’ll look into the many ways self control is not important and very wise. 

So get ready to exercise some restraint and moderation as we press ahead on this edition of “Becoming Today”.

Again I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you for joining us here. Whether you have been following this series for the past three plus weeks or if this is the first time you are joining us. We are involved in a 31-day study of wisdom as taught in the Book of Proverbs. If you’d like to know more about The Passion Translation and why we are using it for this undertaking, you can find a recap near the end of today’s conversation.

We are continuing forward as we have now arrived at day 25 , as we head into the final week of our extended odyssey. Our  search and rescue mission for wisdom. 

Understanding that enlightenment is within our reach we shall seek and find the knowledge and inspiration necessary to uplift, support and enhance our collective journeys as well as our own personal paths. 

Yesterday our discussion focused upon the word, “Warning!”.

For some reason whenever I hear that word warning, I hear it as a phrase.

“Warning, Warning! Danger! Will Robinson.” Then I see that robot flapping his arms around. 

While our conversation has nothing to do with androids or artificial intelligence, it did focus on the dangers of not seeking wise advice that’s been available throughout the ages. 

The first 22 verses of this reading wrap up the “Sayings of the Wise Sages”, in other translations called  “Thirty Sayings of the Wise”. 

Then the final 12 entries, continue to offer insights and while noted as “Revelations From The Wise”, apparently they do not involve the aforementioned ‘wise sages’. 

I have no idea what the requirement is to officially be considered a “sage”, (giggle) or why these final offerings today do not ascend to that level, but nevertheless they seem to me to be equally as important. 

In verses three and four, we are given insights into the benefits of establishing firm foundations based upon truth.

“Wise people are builders—they build families, businesses, communities. And through intelligence and insight their enterprises are established and endure.  Because of their skilled leadership,  the hearts of people are filled with the treasures of wisdom and the pleasures of spiritual wealth.”

These two sentences are a good example of why I like to teach from The Passion Translation. It does not leave much doubt as to what we are talking about. While the N I V is concise if we compare verse four, you’ll see how it can cause some to accept a false understanding.

“…through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

The reading we shared today makes it clear that what we are rewarded with are valuable spiritual insights and a heart filled with wisdom, whereas the other translation can cause some to see the rewards as more worldly such as material gains or wealth. 

As we have studied multiple times over the past 24 discussions, in the Lord’s eyes wisdom is far more valuable than silver or gold. 

Jesus defined the abundant life that is promised as being one of spiritual nature. It’s described as having and being sustained by the fruits of the Spirit. As it was recorded in Galatians 5:22-23, “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”

With wisdom we can not only seek, but also find peace, joy and love.

Next we’ll press ahead to Proverbs Chapter 25.

Today the Book of Proverbs shifts back to sharing wisdom that is directly attributed to Solomon as we’ll see in the opening line, these are transcriptions of some of his sage advice. So let’s read together:

Solomon’s proverbs, published by the scribes of King Hezekiah:

God conceals the revelation of his word[a]

    in the hiding place of his glory.[b]

    But the honor of kings[c] is revealed

    by how they thoroughly search out

    the deeper meaning of all that God says.

The heart of a king is full of understanding,

    like the heavens are high and the ocean is deep.

If you burn away the impurities from silver,

    a sterling vessel will emerge from the fire.

And if you purge corruption from the kingdom,

    a king’s reign will be established in righteousness.

Don’t boast in the presence of a king

    or promote yourself by taking a seat at the head table

    and pretending that you’re someone important.

For it is better for the king to say to you,

    “Come, you should sit at the head table,”

    than for him to say in front of everyone,

    “Please get up and move—

    you’re sitting in the place of the prince.”

Don’t be hasty to file a lawsuit.

    By starting something you wish you hadn’t,

    you could be humiliated when you lose your case.

Don’t reveal another person’s secret

    just to prove a point in an argument,

    or you could be accused of being a gossip

10 

and gain a reputation for being one

    who betrays the confidence of a friend.

11 

Winsome words spoken at just the right time

    are as appealing as apples gilded in gold

    surrounded with silver.[d]

12 

When you humbly receive wise correction,

    it adorns your life with beauty[e]

    and makes you a better person.

13 

A reliable, trustworthy messenger

    refreshes the heart of his master,[f]

    like a gentle snowfall at harvest time.

14 

Clouds that carry no water

    and a wind that brings no refreshing rain[g]—

    that’s what you’re like when you boast

    of a gift that you don’t have.[h]

Wisdom Practices Self-Control

15 

Use patience and kindness when you want to persuade leaders

    and watch them change their minds right in front of you.

    For your gentle wisdom will quell the strongest resistance.[i]

16 

When you discover something sweet,

    don’t overindulge and eat more than you need,

    for excess in anything can make you sick of even a good thing.

17 

Don’t wear out your welcome

    by staying too long at the home of your friends,

    or they may get fed up with always having you there

    and wish you hadn’t come.

18 

Lying about and slandering people

    are as bad as hitting them with a club,

    or wounding them with an arrow,

    or stabbing them with a sword.

19 

You can’t depend on an unreliable person

    when you really need help.

    It can be compared to biting down on an abscessed tooth

    or walking with a sprained ankle.

20 

When you sing a song of joy to someone suffering

    in the deepest grief and heartache,

    it can be compared to disrobing in the middle of a blizzard

    or rubbing salt in a wound.

21 

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch.[j]

    Win him over with your kindness.

22 

Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience[k]

    and God will reward you with favor.

23 

As the north wind brings a storm,

    saying things you shouldn’t[l] brings a storm to any relationship.

24 

It’s better to live all alone in a rundown shack

    than to share a castle with a crabby spouse![m]

25 

Like a drink of cool water refreshes a weary, thirsty soul,

    so hearing good news revives the spirit.

26 

When a lover of God gives in and compromises with wickedness,

    it can be compared to contaminating a stream with sewage

    or polluting a fountain.

27 

It’s good to eat sweet things,

    but you can take too much.

    It’s good to be honored,

    but to seek words of praise[n] is not honor at all.

28 

If you live without restraint

    and are unable to control your temper,

    you’re as helpless as a city with broken-down defenses,

    open to attack.

Take a moment to reflect and then we’ll continue our conversation on some of these wise ideas.

The first part of our reading today features Solomon’s thoughts on numerous issues. I’d just like to touch on one of those before we get into our conversation about maintaining control.

Verse 12  notes, “When you humbly receive wise correction, it adorns your life with beauty and makes you a better person.” 

It’s not easy to admit when we are wrong, but when we do, acknowledging our need to accept personal responsibility, learn from the situation and choose to move forward we are truly “Becoming”. Change is or should be constant here along our shared journey. In trying to avoid being corrected or dealing with the repercussions of our missteps we are adding nothing but pain to our paths.

That is why the second part of the chapter is so important, as it appears under the sub-heading, “Wisdom Practices Self-Control”.

So what exactly do we mean by self control? You can share your definitions below as we’ll begin to formulate a common understanding. 

The dictionary offers this explanation: “the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations’.

Psychologists define it as, the ability to manage one’s impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals, and Psychology Today adds it is quote, “what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom”.

Hmm…so busy trying to figure out how their own minds work, or don’t; I guess they haven’t spent much time with animals.

Many animals, birds and even insects not only exhibit self control, but also even in the tiniest of cases like bees and ants, they live their lives with motivation, determination and patience. Even exhibiting a willingness to be of service for the good of the colony…. We need more people like that.

Anyway self-control as we look at will include parts of both definitions plus more.

Let’s agree to accept self control as the ability to maintain balance of our emotions, impulses, thoughts and behaviors in such a manner that serves not only ourselves but the interests of all involved while maintaining an attitude of moderation while doing it. 

Think about that for a moment and then we’ll examine the verses today that coincide with the beliefs just expressed.

Verse 15 notes, “Use patience and kindness when you want to persuade leaders and watch them change their minds right in front of you. For your gentle wisdom will quell the strongest resistance”.

It does not say to yell, scream, refuse to listen, point fingers or chant our side is right, na- na hey hey!

Exercising our virtues can truly effect change. Being kind, compassionate, respectful when dealing with others and patiently listening is the best way to have a conversation, not coming in with pre-planned attack points that you’ve emailed to 400 people and ordering them to repeat word for word. 

Always approach dealings with integrity, and you will see results that are mutually beneficial and right. 

This is also pointed to in verse 19, “You can’t depend on an unreliable person when you really need help. It can be compared to biting down on an abscessed tooth or walking with a sprained ankle.”

Don’t cripple yourself by going along with those who are less than virtuous, pretend to be something they are not or simply are liars. The unfaithful and dishonest will not get you anywhere… well at least not anywhere you really want to be. 

Picking up with verse 25 now,  we read, “Like a drink of cool water refreshes a weary, thirsty soul,  so hearing good news revives the spirit.”

And the good news is readily available, if you choose to seek it. If you do, you will find it. The Scriptures are full of lessons about self control and it’s benefits.

In fact it’s one of the “Fruits of the Spirit” recorded in Galatians 5: 22-23, “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”.

Indeed there are no regulations that keep us from acting gently, kindly, compassionately, with dignity, integrity and moderation in our hearts. While we may not see it much these days, it has not been outlawed, you simply have to make the choice to do so and no one can stop you, as the Psalmist sang , ‘The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me’?

I answer that query as “nothing”. For in Philippians 4:13 we learn, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. And as The Passion Translation notes, “And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty”.

That strength is readily available, it’s already yours, received as a gift from God, you just need to decide to make use of it.  In 2nd Timothy 1:7 this  was recorded, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” With the Holy Spirit inside of us, we are able to possess self-control and demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit.

However, opting not to utilize this inherent ability, brings us to today’s final verse, If you live without restraint and are unable to control your temper, you’re as helpless as a city with broken-down defenses, open to attack”.

Choose Peace. Reject strife. Choose compassion, ignore anger. Forgive and remember moderation and self-control are righteous and living righteously brings wisdom and understanding to all  who choose to walk the path along with those of use committed to always being “Becoming”. 

Truth, understanding, enlightenment and wisdom are all very “Becoming” traits. They empower us to grow and learn to be who we truly were intended to be. Which in turn enables us to continue moving on, with our momentum fully powered forward and upward.

I hope you have enjoyed the first three weeks, yes 25 days already of this odyssey. Plus there is still much more to come.

As always I encourage you to actively participate. Please post your comments, questions, suggestions or concerns below. This is a safe space to share and there are protections in place to keep spammers out. I will respond to all who choose to participate. 

If you do not feel comfortable sharing below, remember you can always reach out privately through the easy to use form on our Contact page.

I pray each and every one of you enjoys a safe and blessed day. Then join us tomorrow as we continue our proverbial search here along this shared  journey we call “Becoming Today”. 

For those that have been here for a while I hope some of the repetitive nature of these posts is not too distracting. Not only are some of these points to remind us of our focus this month, it is also designed to also be welcoming.

We never know when a fellow traveler may walk along with us, or need to take a diversion. 

This is especially true since I have no idea what algorithm directed you, what search method may have pointed in our direction or how many of you find us on any given day. Therefore it’s necessary to recap some of the outline for our combined purposes. 

I appreciate your patience and understanding, so I’ll now mention we’ve come to that point in this conversation and if you’ve already heard this, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and pick up with the next image.

Now for those of you listening to the podcast I know that makes no sense, since you can’t hear any of the beautiful graphics we create each day, so you’ll just have to listen along; again… (insert audible giggle here) understanding that I’m laughing with you not at you.

As I am apt to do, even if you have studied Proverbs before, our undertaking may be a bit different, as we’ll be adding some passion to it. 

I am being called to focus this teaching around the The Passion Translation® book of Isaiah and New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts.

Done so by  Dr. Brian Simmons who believes the”message of God’s story is timeless; the Word of God doesn’t change. But the methods by which that story is communicated should be timely; the vessels that steward God’s Word can and should change. 

Thank you again for joining us on this edition of “Becoming Today”.

Also I’ll remind you that the footnotes referred to above are available here and include underlined study links:

Footnotes
  1. Proverbs 25:8 Or nobles / on whom you had set your eyes. / 8 Do not go
  1. Proverbs 25:11 Or possibly apricots **

** Bonus comment for reading this far…. I guess even in Biblical times, the young grocery clerk had trouble telling an apple from an apricot.. (Rochelle, laughing)… enjoy your weekend!

The Passion Translation®. 

Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc

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