I have an image in my head of gentleness that was given to me a long ago time ago by a man in ministry. He said, “Picture a person in a wheelchair who needs to be lifted onto the seat of a car. The person doing the lifting has to be very strong in order to be very gentle.” The image fits right in with what Pastor Greg told us was Jesus’ definition, doesn’t it? (Restraint coupled with strength and courage.)
Self-control, on the other hand, is a little harder to embrace. As Pastor Greg said, “In our culture, we’re told to indulge ourselves.” Broadcasting the message of – ‘I deserve this’ – is what pays the bills for the advertising community; and keeps our sin nature winning the war for our hearts.
But I was stopped this weekend by the Holy Spirit when Pastor Greg quoted from Proverbs 25:28 – “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” As with any good proverb, I want to chew on that a bit, you know? We don’t live in cities surrounded and protected by walls any more. But it doesn’t mean the boundaries they’re meant to define don’t exist. It’s when we don’t respect those boundaries that trouble comes along and snares us.
Perhaps the most common reason we hear for rejecting the Church is the restrictive nature of our code of conduct. We’re seen as judgmental and intolerant, wanting folks to exercise self-control (behave) before we help them find the One in whom they can believe. But it is here that the Apostle Peter sets us straight, calling us to be effective and productive in reaching others for Christ, not by judging, but by living a life filled with “His divine power” (2 Peter 1:3-9). Notice Peter doesn’t say willpower. It’s God’s supernatural presence in our everyday lives that makes all the difference in how we think and act!
The PLC Orchard, is seems to me, is overflowing with the Fruit of the Spirit. The only question that remains now is, How will you and I share the harvest?