If you know me, you know I love dogs. I can spot a cute dog a mile away (or really any dog). My favorite part of working the drive-thru is saying “hi” to all the furry co-pilots. I also really love babies and kids, but I’m better with dogs (and I think people would be worried if I asked them to pet their kids).
One thing I love about kids and dogs is how uninhibited they are. They are willing to unashamedly beg, cry, or do whatever they can to get a need met. They don’t care how ridiculous they look. Their focus is not on how other’s perceive them.
Uninhibited does not describe me. In fact, I am exactly the opposite. One of my friend’s in college loved the verse, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes” (2 Sam. 6:22a, NIV). I, however, loved the verse, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28, ESV).
Now my friend didn’t run around campus naked (see 2 Sam. 6) and I certainly lack a lot of self-control (see my caloric intake for the week), but her willingness to expose any of her own imperfections for the sake of the gospel was a beautiful pairing with my desire to live a life according to His commands. The key is: we need both. I love the way 2 Timothy 1:7 pairs these two concepts, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” To God, sound judgment and fearfulness do not go together. That’s just my skewed version.
People like my friend are rare. I know very few people as daring as she is. It’s no surprise that she’s living overseas doing amazing things for Jesus. Something only someone living by the Spirit could do. I, however, am pretty normal. I see a lot of me around. I see a lot fearfulness guised as self-control.
Knowing me, I’d probably be saying some sort of “but” right now if I were reading this post.
…but self-control is biblical!
…but the world is a scary place!
…but my fearfulness is legit! Look what happened last time I was brave!
So, yes, self-control is biblical. Please exercise self-control. Please strive to live a life according to the Bible. But if you’re like me, check your motives before playing the “self-control” card. What would it look like to be brave? For most, that’ll include some form of self-control. It might mean budgeting better so you can bravely donate more money. It might mean ending a gossip session to bravely share your story. It might mean skipping lunch to bravely fast and pray. It could also mean bravely hoping or dreaming again.
(Here’s where I know the “but” would be causing me to want to exit out of this page…hang with me!)
It took my friend 8, hope-filled years to get overseas. While living here, her heart was torn. She desperately wanted to go and serve the people God called her to serve. She kept hitting these road bumps though. To anyone else, those bumps would have been mountains. To me, they probably would’ve caused me to look for a different destination. God used those bumps (or mountains) to create a beautiful step stool for her to get where He called her. The journey wasn’t easy, it was grueling. In fact, being there has continued difficulties because of those horrible bumps. However, she never stopped looking to the goal. She dared to hope.
When people used to say to me “I just don’t want to get my hopes up,” I used to say, “but that’s what hopes are made for!” I’m not sure that was the most empathic response and I haven’t said it in years, but I do think there is something to be said for that mentality. Shouldn’t people of faith be the most hope-filled?
How can you dare to hope today? What is it you’re afraid to hope for? How does fear get in the way of living a life of uninhibited faith for the Lord?