Self-Control, Worship, and Life

Those of us who are Christians rightly appreciate the characteristics that Paul described to the Galatians as “the fruit of the Spirit.” A few years ago, a friend of mine pointed out that they form something of a hierarchy with “self-control” as the base. I don’t know where he learned or came up with that idea, but I like it.

I also like what Douglas Wilson has to say on the subject in the latest installment of his “State of the Church” series, Church and Kingdom, Cathedral and Town:

… the Spirit moves throughout the earth, converting and restoring individuals, fashioning them into saints, into believers. As His fruit is manifested in them, one of those fruits is self-control, self-government, or self-mastery. This self-government is the basic building block for establishing non-tyrannical governments in the other spheres that God has established among men. Without self-government, families can become autocratic tribes…. Without self-government, the church can become a grasping and despotic monster…. Without self-government, the civil magistrate can become an overweening and covetous thug….

I love that he starts with the point that the Spirit is what “moves throughout the earth” to convert people. I cannot convert anyone; I cannot restore anyone; I cannot compel or convince anyone on my own. I don’t “preach” to my non-Christian friends for precisely that reason. What I try to do — and here I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t recall the quote or the original source — is to live a life that, if I succeed, may invite someone prompted by the Spirit to ask me about whom I follow, whom I serve, whom I worship.

And, speaking of worship, I love the metaphors in this excerpt:

The worship of God is central to all of life, but it does not devour all of life. The sun does not burn everything up, but it does give light to everything. The water does not flood the world, but it does irrigate the entire world. The anchor fastens the ship, the ship does not turn into a gigantic anchor. The cathedral is at the center of the town, but does not “take over” all the activities of the townspeople — their printing, their auto mechanics, their software designing, their lawn mowing. In one sense all of that is none of their business. But at the same time the church instructs the townspeople in the adverbs — how these things are to be done, meaning, honestly, before the Lord, with one eye always on the text, and with a hard work ethic.

Lord, help me govern myself well; help me worship You in all I do, whatever I do; and help me be about the business of my life in a way that pleases You, and points others to You.

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2 Responses to Self-Control, Worship, and Life

  1. Guy Stewart says:

    I did some poking around, and thought this might inform the idea you were talking about above — living our lives so that others will see our witness — here’s ONE link that might shed some more light on the discussion:

    Also, Matthew 5:16 — “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (I use Bible Gateway to look at one verse through a bunch of translations and maybe catch shades of meaning)…

    If you find the reference you were thinking of, let me know here!

    BTW — I submitted my newest novel to Baen today! Maybe you’ll have a chance to see it…though there must be some kind of lottery or assignment of the MS. I work with Bruce Bethke and STUPEFYING STORIES as a one of six slushpile readers. He divvies out the MS based on our areas of interest/strength.

    Later, my online friend. I AM PRAYING for you; that the Lord might strengthen your walk and deepen your understanding of His will for your life!


    • Thanks, Guy!

      I first heard the “you are the only Bible someone might read” idea many years ago, but it still holds true. I’m not sure my translation is as accurate as some…. (And I do refer to Bible Gateway from time to time; it’s a great resource.)

      I wish I could remember the quote. I heard Larry Crabb use it, and it went something like “Answer only those questions that the quality of your life prompts others to ask,” but I’m sure I’ve got something mixed up in there somewhere.

      At any rate, I thank you again and wish you the very best!

      P.S. I see your submission in the queue. Look forward to digging into it! GWR