Wednesday Morning Devotion (Add Virtue to Knowledge)

Note:  Because of a rushed morning, I’m cross-posting today’s devotional with today’s Running Toward the Goal podcast.

3By his divine power, God has given us everything that leads to life and virtue, through knowing the one who has called us by his own glory and goodness. 4It is by this means that he has given us the wonderfully precious promises, so that through them you might have a share in the divine nature, and flee the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5Because of this make every effort to add excellence to your faith, knowledge to your excellence, 6self-control to your knowledge, patience to your self-control, virtue to your patience, 7brotherly affection to your virtue, and love to your brotherly affection.

8For if you have these things you will grow, and it will not be unproductive or fruitless. You will gain the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9Whoever does not have these is blind and refuses to understand. He forgets that his past sins have been washed away. 10So all the more, brothers and sisters, work zealously to establish your calling and election, for if you do these things, you won’t stumble. 11In this way your entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be provided for richly. — 2 Peter 1:3-11

Hello, I’m Henry Neufeld, president of Pacesetters Bible School with today’s Running Toward the Goal.

We aren’t always certain how to respond to a “controlled” person. In general, I think, we wonder what they would be doing if they lost control. The assumption, of course, is that they cannot possibly remain controlled for their entire life. Something somewhere is going to make them lose it. We may also think such a person is not genuine or real. We’d prefer that they show their emotions and let us know just what is inside.

But that’s not precisely the idea of Biblical “self-control.” The type of control I’ve been describing is a personality trait, and not necessarily an indication of character. The type of self-control here doesn’t refer to your personality, but rather to your ability to control your desires. The Greeks saw it as one of the highest virtues, because it was not a matter of being good because you felt like it, or when your circumstances made it easy. Rather, it was a matter of continuing to live right even when circumstances made it difficult, or when you desired to do something else.

This is a virtue that is much needed in our society today. In literature or on TV, we see the constant assumption that someone must go after his or her desires—they can’t help it. A man sees a beautiful woman, and writers or producers don’t even show a question or a struggle. They desire sex; they will have sex. We’re conditioned to believe that certain behavior is OK, because people just can’t help it. We’re subject to our desires.

And lest someone decide that it’s only sexual desires that need to be controlled, this involves all of one’s appetites, such as food, and also the use of the tongue. Do you frequently find that you simply can’t resist some dainty? I know I do. I need more self-control. What about words? Do you find that things frequently get out of your mouth before being processed by your brain? I must confess that happens to me. It’s a case for self-control.

As Christians, we can apply the elements Peter has already mentioned: faith, excellence, and knowledge. All our efforts toward better self-control come as part of our faith, our trust in God. Trusting in ourselves we are likely to keep right on doing the same thing and become more and more discouraged. Trusting in God, we have hope. Excellence gives us that divine pattern to strive for, while our knowledge, especially of God’s word, gives us a means to discern whether we are being self-controlled or over-controlled.

We need to control our desires, but let God give wisdom and discernment, as well as the strength!

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