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Self-Control in a Culture of Excess

I love Louisiana. It’s one of the most unique places on earth. From Mardis Gras to Duck Dynasty to Acadiana to Cafe Dumonde, you can find a lot here that you can’t find anywhere else. One thing about Louisiana is that we tend to be defined by our excesses – food, drink, parades, etc. I like this list:

You might be from Louisiana if…

  • The four seasons in your year are Crawfish, Catfish, Gumbo, and King Cake.
  • You judge a po-boy by the number of napkins used.
  • You refer to cold temperatures as “gumbo weather.”
  • The four food groups are boiled seafood, friend seafood, grilled seafood, and beer.
  • You believe that purple, green, and gold look good together and you will eat things those colors.

In this culture Self-Control can almost be a dirty word – like diet, cholesterol, etc. But it’s constantly mentioned in scripture as a characteristic of a Christian.

And in the book of Proverbs, which Bridge Church is studying through this summer, self-control and wisdom could be synonymous. Proverbs gives us some great pictures of what it looks like to have & not have self-control. We talked about one of my favs yesterday at Bridge:

Proverbs 25:28 (ESV) 28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Walls were the strength of an ancient city. They provided security, defensive positions to fight from, protection, control of who came in and who went out.

The first thing to come down upon conquering a city would have been the walls.

Same is true for us. If you don’t have self-control you lack security, a place to fight temptation from, control of who influences you & who does not. You are EXPOSED to the dangers in our world & the sinful nature within.

Solomon gets specific about self-control with four areas. What’s interesting is they are no different from the areas we struggle to control today. Four areas that tend to leave us without walls in our society today, or behaviors that break into our lives and destroy our walls.

1) IMPULSIVENESS & HASTE. In spending, rushing, & decision making.

Proverbs 19:2 (ESV) 2 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

Proverbs 20:25 (ESV) 25 It is a snare to… reflect only after making vows.

Proverbs 29:20 (ESV) 20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

2) IMPATIENCE & ANGER. Anger is one step from danger.

Proverbs 14:29 (ESV) 29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 15:18 (ESV) 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 19:19 (ESV) 19 A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.

3) INTOXICATION & GLUTTONY. Food, Drink, Pleasure.

Proverbs 21:17 (ESV) 17 Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

4) IMMORALITY & PLEASURE. Our culture is out of God’s boundaries & out of control sexually.

Proverbs 6:32-33 (ESV)  32 He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. 33 Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.

How do I Live a Life of Self-control?

Proverbs 18:10 (ESV) 10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

The opposite of having no walls is having a refuge to run to. Self-Control means learning to run to a safe place that is the Lord.

When tempted, run to the Lord. When you fail, run to the Lord. When others are tempted and fail, run to the Lord on their behalf or take them there.

Next Steps:

  • Admit that “without the Lord, I’m without walls.” Salvation & refuge starts with recognizing your need for God’s help.
  • Admit, “There’s nothing in life that can satisfy me like Jesus.” Sin is believing the lie that ________ can bring me more joy than God can in Christ.
  • Admit, “What I’m mastered by will ultimately define who I am.” Be remembered for your trust in God, not your reliance on substance or sin.

You Might Be Wise If…

Started a summer study through the book of Proverbs at Bridge Church yesterday. I love Proverbs because it covers every issue we face in life through the lens of God’s inspiration. And because I love hard candy that takes a while to digest. Many of the Proverbs are like that. But spend time on them and you will grow wiser and follow them and your life will be different. What does the wise life look like? Here’s a little checklist:

According to Proverbs, you might be wise if…

  • You choose your friends wisely.
  • You listen to others.
  • You can receive correction from others.
  • You fear the Lord.
  • You discipline your children effectively.
  • You are generous with your wealth.
  • You treat the poor with care & concern.
  • You are careful with your words.
  • You refuse gossip & slander.
  • Your words mean a lot to others.
  • You save sex for marriage.
  • You love your spouse enthusiastically.
  • You can control your temper.
  • You understand the dangers of abusing alcohol.
  • You are not afraid of hard work.
  • You are honest in your business dealings.
  • You can be trusted as a friend.
  • You can be kind to your foes.
  • You rely on God’s word.
  • You trust God for salvation & provision.
  • You are not easily led into evil by others.
  • You do not lie.
  • You are humble instead of prideful.
  • You stay away from flirtation & the flirtatious.
  • You hate evil.
  • You are more concerned about who you are that what you have.
  • You can define riches without talking about money.
  • You have a truly meaningful life.
  • You have a good reputation with others.
  • You trust God instead of yourself & others.

Wise up with us Sunday’s, 10:30am at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum in Madisonville.


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