Thursday, August 09, 2007

The irony of "self-control"

I've often heard people talk about self-control -- whether having self-control, needing self-control, gaining self-control, admiring someone's self-control ...

Who, exactly, do we suppose is in control when "self-control" is not being exercised? Biology? Passion? Habit? The default spirit of the age? I think it's worth considering, if we are not exercising "self-control", exactly what's in the driver's seat. There's a case to be made for regaining ground from each of those, reclaiming some of our lives under the area of "self-control".

Spiritually, the Bible refers to us as slaves to our desires. If a person could force you do something, you are that person's slave; by the same token if your desires force you to do something, you are their slave. It is easy to see people who are slaves to alcohol, to work, to appetite, to proving themselves the best, to financial security, to finding fault, to pride, to jealousy, to bitterness, and all kinds of other things. It can be a little uncomfortable to look at what, exactly, is in the driver's seat in our lives.

There is one aspect of being redeemed by Christ that bears remembering here: his promise to set us free, particularly to set us free from this type of slavery. False religion and false hopes come to steal and kill and destroy, to take our lives or leave them in ruins. Christ comes to give us our lives back: that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.

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