"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Proverbs 25:28 (NIV)
Have you ever been in a discussion with a loved one and suddenly your blood pressure skyrockets, your nerves fray, and the worst version of you begs to come out?
Not that this ehhhhhver happens to me of course.
Of course it happens to me. I live with other humans. But what I'm trying to better understand is this whole concept of self-control. So many times in the Bible we are told to display self-control: Proverbs 25:28, Galatians 5:23, 1 Peter 4:7, and many others.
But it's hard to display self-control when it feels like someone else does things out of our control and yanks our emotions into a bad place. So, here's one little tidbit I'm learning. When someone else's actions or statements threaten to pull me into a bad place, I have a choice. I do. It may feel like I don't have a choice. It may feel like I have to react according to my feelings, but I don't. I have a choice.
My choice is whether or not to give them the power to control my emotions.
When I react by yelling or flying off the handle or making a snappy comment back, I basically transfer my power to that other person. When I'm void of power, I'm void of self-control. So, it seems to me if I'm going to remain self-controlled, I have to keep my power.
Now, when I say "my power," I don't mean something I conjure up myself. I am referring to God's power working in me. When I react according to God's Word, I feel that power. When I react contrary to God's Word, I feel powerless.
Isaiah 55:10-11 is such a good reminder of how we can tap into God's power no matter what situation we are facing:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? The answer to keeping God's power with me and working in me to produce self-control is letting His Word get inside me. His Word seeping into my mind and my heart will accomplish things - good things - powerful things - things that help me display self-control.
So, here's my new tactic. When I'm facing a situation where someone is getting on the last good nerve I have, I'm going to start quoting God's Word in the present tense. Take 1 Peter 5:6-8 for example. Here's how I plan to use these verses if one of my sweet children starts acting NOT SO SWEET:
In this moment I'm choosing to be self-controlled and alert. Your actions are begging me to yell and lose control. But, I realize I have an enemy and that enemy is not you. The devil is prowling and roaring and looking to devour me through my own lack of control right now. But, I am God's girl. That's right. I am. So, I am going to humbly and quietly let God have His way in me right now. And when I do this, God will lift me and my frayed nerves up from this situation and fill me with a much better reaction than what I can give you right now. So, give me just a few minutes and then we'll calmly talk about this.
Girl, that's some power right there.
And that will make you shine with so much self-control your kids, friends, spouse and co-workers won't know what to do with you.
That statement was just taken from one little set of verses found in 1 Peter. Can you imagine what might happen if we wrote out powerful responses using God's Word on 3x5 cards and pulled them out every time we found ourselves in a situation?
I love being God's girl. Don't you?
Dear Lord, I am reminded after reading this devotion that I am Your child. You made me. You know me. And therefore, You designed my heart, mind and soul to receive and respond to the power in your Word. When I lack my own power to be self-controlled help me to turn to Your truth for good, calm responses. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
When you're facing a situation where someone is getting on the last good nerve you have, start quoting God's Word in the present tense. Write out powerful responses using verses on 3x5 cards and keep them with you so you can refer to them as needed.
The answer to keeping God's power with me and working in me to produce self-control is letting His Word get inside me.
1 Peter 4:7, "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 5:8, "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (NIV)
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