As I’ve mentioned before I have been writing out the Bible during my quiet time this year. I started with Philippians, then I went to first John, followed by Ecclesiastes, and recently I’ve been writing through the book of Joshua. I think the Lord purposefully guided me to this book in this season, because it has taught me so much about self-control … something I struggle with all too often.
Through His Word, God has been revealing the importance of self-control and not rushing through things in order to see quicker results. Let me explain. The book of Joshua includes many names of kingdoms and kings. Seriously, if you don’t believe me go check out chapter 15. I can’t even pronounce half of it. Also, a lot of the chapters seem very repetitive.
So a few weeks into copying verse by verse, I realized that if I had only read through Joshua, I probably would have skimmed a lot of these chapters. I’m not saying that it’s right, but I am for sure guilty of this.
Of course, if I am going to stick to my plan to write out the Bible in six years, I’ve got to stay the course. I cannot just skim through chapters or paraphrase things that I want to paraphrase. Not only is God’s word living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, it is perfect in every way just as He is. So I write and I write and I write.
It is a gift, and honestly it should feel that way, but when words or things in life get repetitive, I convince myself they must be boring. And if something is boring, normally I look for something better. So the other day I was tempted to put these lists of kings and kingdoms on pause and just start my next book in this writing project – Genesis. Because let’s face it, there’s a lot to be excited about in Genesis. I started to tell myself that I could just return to Joshua in a couple weeks. That would be fine right?
Probably not. Choosing to skip the rest of Joshua (“for now”) would mean choosing the easier and more exciting path, rather than having the self-control to keep going. And in talking about this with J, I realized new and exciting are my favorite types of things. I so often want to follow excitement in life. It’s much more enticing than the mundane.
When I was in high school this looked like me changing my hair color from blonde to brown to blonde to dark brown, maybe even black, and then back to blonde. (If you knew me back then, you might be giggling at this.)
Now that I’m married my hair hasn’t changed, but my mind seems to run the same path. I dream about moving to a different city, finding a new job, getting Tuck a puppy brother, starting a family, and maybe even buying another house. Yes we just bought this one a couple months ago. Like I said, this is not necessarily a healthy way of thinking or God’s will for my thoughts – but it’s a easy path to stumble down.
Most of you can probably relate to feeling this way at some point. Maybe you bought the hair dye. Or had another baby. Or brought home another puppy (please send pics). Or quit your job. Maybe you moved across the country.
These things aren’t wrong in themselves. In fact, they can be so wonderful and exciting and sometimes even the right next step. With all things, though, our intent behind our actions is what really matters.
That’s why I know there is a deeper-rooted problem in my heart. My biggest struggle with self-control is that is begins at discontentment. And I put it out there for all of you to see that my word of the year was contentment, remember? But my mind can so easily and quickly be tricked into looking for something better than my “right now.”
We can run from self-control when we’re discontent. We can avoid it when we’re doubting God. Or doubting ourselves. I’m sure this list could go on for miles.
But living with self-control is important in our walk with Jesus. As witnesses to the Gospel, we are to run this race set before us. Imagine if Jesus hadn’t had self-control in the garden of Gethsemane… that’s a hard thought to ponder. But He chose self-control. He chose to trust God in the “right now.” He chose to ignore any desire to find comfort or excitement in something else.
Okay so we are not Jesus. But we have been given everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
Plus self-control is mentioned under the fruit of the spirit. Shout out to Izzy for showing me two years ago that Galatians 5 says the fruit of the spirit- not the fruits. Strawberries don’t try to have seeds and red coloring and juicy flavor and a green hat of leaves on top. They just depend on water/sun, their life source, for growth. They don’t try to grow without either of these things. Same with us. We should just depend on our life source, Jesus, for growth. We have to keep seeking Him and trusting Him – like giant strawberries. (Just pause to picture this for a moment. Thank you.)
If that’s not a reason enough to choose self-control today. Here’s are two more (of many) ways the Bible talks about self-control:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
I’m working on this who self-control thing. I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’ve got a pretty good teacher. Plus, it’s hard to argue with something that nourishes our relationships, leads to endurance, and above all strengthens our relationship with God.
No doubt, it’s tough. Maybe you’ve got some suggestions you can share with me. I’d love to hear them. Until then, I’ll just keep on writing (and writing and writing and writing) through Joshua.