Friday, April 28, 2017
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16(NLT)
The apostle Peter is a most ironic choice by God to be a teacher of self-control. If you consider his track record, every time Peter opened his mouth he seemed to wander off the reservation and insert his foot:
· Peter said he would die for Jesus; in the end he denied he even knew him.
· Peter’s immediate response when the soldiers came for Jesus in Gethsemane was to whip out a sword to fight for the one who had said turn the other cheek.
· Peter promised a lot; he even proclaimed a correct answer to Jesus’ question that he was Messiah, but when crunch time came he wimped like the rest of us.
So much for self-control!
Yet, on Pentecost Day we find Peter preaching to at least 5,000 at the Temple, and becoming the little rock Jesus nick-named him. Peter was to be the de-facto leader of the early church; a man with little self-control became one of the most dramatic examples of putting all in the hands of God. Tradition has it that he was crucified as Jesus was, but thought it was improper to take the same position as his Lord, and asked to be placed on his cross upside-down.
Two quotations I’ve come to love may offer some of the best advice I’ve ever heard when it comes to being disciplined, or having self-control, and how to go about it:
Maxie Dunnam: Spiritual formation is that dynamic process of receiving through faith and appropriating through commitment, discipline, and action.[ii]
Faith happens between the ears and heart; appropriating what faith tells you to do is a matter of putting it into action in your life. It may start small, but ends up big as commitment, discipline and action.
Charles Reade: Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.[iii]
Peter’s disciplined friend Paul simply said that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). The “acts” Charles Reade held up are those areas of self-discipline you want to cultivate. It begins with an intentional step, based on the faith conviction that you must live a certain way. That sown seed of faith becomes a habit, which eventually becomes your character, where you don’t think about it anymore, you simply continue. That character is your destiny or legacy.
If there is a problem with self-discipline in your life, turn it upside down and crucify whatever is preventing you from giving glory to God. Your character and legacy depend on what you will do with your first step today.
I Title image: Masaccio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons