It’s an internal grating, just the mentioning of this word, self-control. It reminds me of restraint, of hesitancy, of even being timid.
Self-control. Just saying it stirs up visions of the past– biting my tongue (or not!) and taking some pain (mostly of damaged pride). It doesn’t take me to happier places of kindness and goodness and love.
It is something I like to teach my children, but not necessarily something I like to practice. It makes me think of sacrifice, but not the sacrifice I’m willing to give. Not to the extent I think I should give it, anyway.
Self-control for me often seems like a giving in and a giving over of a passionate heart to another way. Another way I don’t naturally want to go.
Self-control seems devoid of desire and a laying down of me. Something I also do not want naturally.
When I wake up, self-control is not what I want. I have an agenda. I have goals. I have dreams. I have other things in mind.
And I’m right.
Self-control involves sacrifice. It involves the giving up and sometimes all of it. It involves giving it over. It involves letting go and lying down. It lacks for self-wanting. It involves an irritation and we see here, a tortuous, humiliating, even looking away of God. Self-control looks this bad;
People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days – so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!” Mark 15:29-30
Everything in me wants him to fight back, to answer the accusations, to climb down off the curse of the cross and stand in God’s sight again, run back to the mountain and walk on the road with friends. Life as it was.
But he doesn’t. He takes it all. He stands in the most honorable and holy of all positions.
Jesus stands and hangs in self-control.
And because of Jesus, I want this gift.
I want to stand with him, thankful I do not hang there. I don’t have to die there.
He’s giving me a new desire, and it’s not life as it was or sometimes is.
It is full of love and power. It is compassionate and humble and different from life before Him. This is the life I want.