Survivor Series: Self Control - A Higher Purpose
There are days when we are bombarded by people showing their lack of self-control. Whether it is in person, as related by friends, or seen on TV or other social media outlets, the stream appears relentless. We see instances of rudeness, violence, excessive indulgence, lack of consideration, road rage, extremely loud music, and the list goes on and on. Then there are those moments when we observe self-control in action and we wish there were more of these moments. I believe there are countless moments of self-control taking place all the time. But even so, self-control can be difficult for us humans. Pastor Ed in this past weekend’s installment of case studies in Proverbs laid out a pattern for developing self-control. Thinking through this process my mind was drawn to the story of Jackie Robinson’s first year in major league baseball.
For more than a half a century, and realistically for millennia, people of color were systematically excluded from Major League Baseball. This came to an end when Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. The hatred and vitriol hurled at this Black man, an African American, was of epic dimensions. Whole stadiums, on the playing field and in the stands, rocked with racial insults all directed at one man. Opposing players went out of their way to abuse Robinson both mentally and physically. Robinson by character and personality was a driven man, a fighter, and fiery individual. Yet throughout this season, Jackie remained calm, did not return hatred with angered outbursts and played well with great self-control. As it is often said, the rest is history.
One of the keys to Robinson’s amazing self-control in 1947 was what was developed within him many years before he stepped on to the professional baseball field. Robinson wanted deeply to see race equality and treatment become a reality in the United States long before he wanted to be a Dodger. It was this purpose, this big picture goal that propelled him forward despite the inhuman treatment he endured during the 1947 season. The owner of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, had instructed Robinson to not react or respond to what was to come as any response would doom the opening of baseball to other men of color. Jackie understood there was much more at stake than being called a racial slur thus he exercised self-control so the bigger purpose would be achieved.
I think we Christ-followers can grow in self-control by doing the same – focusing on the bigger picture. Pastor Ed encouraged us to remember God and aim for something better. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Living out self-control is great evidence of the ONE who lives in you. Thinking of the impact a changed life has on our culture motivates me to think self-control. So when I am confronted with a situation requiring self-control, I will defer to the Holy Spirit and think of His purpose in my life for that moment. Perhaps then, self-control will not just be a thought but an action.
For us Christ-followers, Jackie Robinson is a very good example but the ultimate is Christ Himself. Insulted, beaten mercilessly, reviled, unjustly accused and convicted, taunted then crucified still exercised self-control so our sins could be covered and the relationship between God and me become once again a reality. Exercise self-control that Jesus Christ be magnified.