SELF-CONTROL: THE ART OF FOCUS
“So let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”
// 1 Thessalonians 5:6
Two-year-olds are fantastic human beings: raw, unfiltered and expressive, they live in the moment and are often very strong-willed. Being a mom of a two-year-old, I have experienced this phenomenon firsthand every day for the past year. But what a two-year-old doesn’t yet realize is that he or she is also very easily distracted. I’ve found that distraction is an often underestimated, under-utilized parenting tool! When I can distract my two-year-old from something I don’t want him to have or do through the tools of laughter, food, a new activity, a new person, or an object, I can refocus him to the point where he will completely forget what he wanted in the first place. It’s genius.
From a young age, we humans are easily distracted. When something captures our attention, it is easy to completely forget what we were previously focused on. It’s easy to float from one thing to another, living in the moment and neglecting the eternal, most important thing. We are often distracted by the physical world around us, our focus fixed on what we are building here and now, and we can easily neglect the building of the invisible, eternal, everlasting, most important Kingdom of God. This kind of lifestyle requires very little spiritual self-control, resistance, perseverance or dedication. There is ample grace for a two-year-old who lacks self-control, but a believer without self-control can be a sad, destructive, often exhausting sight.
As believers we must work to cultivate self-control! This takes commitment, hard work and diligence – it doesn’t come naturally! Self-control is the art of focus. It is the ability to resist distraction and stay the course. It is not fun, but it is good and produces much fruit. It protects us against the schemes of the enemy. A self-controlled person can withstand a huge tool of the enemy – distraction.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:6, Paul warns us to be alert, awake and sober in our spirit. He is talking about the spiritual realm here and then later, in Ephesians 6, he writes about putting on the full armor of God to withstand the attacks of the enemy, the devil.
Cultivating self-control is an act of worship in our daily lives. It honors God and brings Him glory. A self-controlled person is not easily shaken or misdirected; they are slow to speak and quick to listen. A self-controlled person is a weapon in the spiritual realm, because he or she is not easily swayed in random directions. Ephesians 4:14 says it this way: “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Praise God that He has given us the grace to cultivate and grow self-control in our lives, to get back on the horse time and time again and choose to be more like Christ in our daily life. We give Him glory by partnering with Him in the process of sanctification.
// Pastor Georgie Kelsey